Die Young

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - An­drew McMillen

Col­lar­bones

Two Bright Lakes WHAT we have here is an orig­i­nal and com­pelling take on pop mu­sic viewed through the lenses of elec­tron­ica, R&B and hip-hop. Duo Col­lar­bones — Ade­laide-based Travis Cook, and Sydney lo­cal Marcus Whale — don’t care much for genre con­straints. It’s the best thing they’ve got go­ing for them. Mu­si­cal in­no­va­tion is truly rare; there’s no one in Aus­tralia writ­ing ma­te­rial like this. Their point of dif­fer­ence is tech­nol­ogy-en­abled: each track is built on in­tri­cate col­lages of in­stru­men­tal sam­ples cut, copied and pasted on lap­tops. Whale’s voice, by turns soul­ful and ethe­real, nar­rates these stark sound­scapes. It’s a con­cept al­bum, of sorts: the lyrics fo­cus on ado­les­cent love and fallen pop idols. The ti­tle track is a fine ex­am­ple of the un­con­ven­tional Col­lar­bones song­writ­ing style: over a lazy back­beat, what sounds like stringed in­stru­ments are sped up, slowed down and mashed to­gether to be­guil­ing ef­fect. A ver­bose verse by Mel­bur­nian rap­per HTML Flow­ers con­trasts well against Whale’s clear voice. The fol­low­ing track, Too Much, is backed by Cook’s boom­ing, bass-heavy beat; Whale uniron­i­cally em­braces a big, melodic, 1990s-era boy band-style cho­rus. It could eas­ily be a ra­dio hit. The ap­proach would be a gim­mick if the songs weren’t so good. The duo’s de­but al­bum, last year’s Iconog­ra­phy, was an in­trigu­ing in­tro­duc­tion but an un­sat­is­fy­ing col­lec­tion in whole: too many half-sketched ideas, too few proper songs. Die Young is a fully re­alised fol­low-up, one that sees the pair liv­ing up to their po­ten­tial. It may be one of the stranger pop al­bums you’ll hear this year, but you won’t re­gret your time spent with these 10 fine tracks.

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