The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

The Last Po­laroid Charles Jenk­ins and the Zhiva­gos Sil­ver Stamp Mel­bourne’s Charles Jenk­ins prides him­self on a well-crafted turn of phrase, at­tached to se­duc­tive har­monies or his mourn­ful soli­tary vo­cal, but al­ways with a vivid nar­ra­tive as the driv­ing force. This fifth al­bum with his band the Zhiva­gos is no ex­cep­tion to that rule. The 10 songs here are typ­i­cal of Jenk­ins’s off-kil­ter gui­tar pop, de­li­cious hooks hung on un­clut­tered ar­range­ments, where just oc­ca­sion­ally Jenk­ins’s gui­tar or that of off­sider Davey Lane takes front of stage. The open­ing ti­tle track em­bod­ies all of those things, with “may you not be left hang­ing like bad art in a mo­tel room” just one of the lines that hits home on an ex­quis­ite three-minute pop song. The fol­low­ing Cart­wheels is equally en­gag­ing, with a funky gui­tar riff un­der­pin­ning a cho­rus that would sit com­fort­ably in a Hol­lies col­lec­tion. That’s also one of the tracks in which the trum­pet of Hunters and Col­lec­tors’ Jack Howard adds an ex­tra di­men­sion to the gui­tar, bass and drums. Bar-room pi­ano also fu­els High Above the River, an au­then­tic glam-rock romp. There’s a mel­low change of pace on the shim­mer­ing Kath­leen, driven by an in­sis­tent snare drum and del­i­cate tremolo touches. Much of what Jenk­ins does owes a debt to clas­sic pop from days gone by and the coun­try-pop epic Elec­tronic De­vices reeks of unashamed nos­tal­gia in lines such as “And yeah I show my age all through the day / the rewind­ing of the cas­sette, the 90-minute TDK”. An­other qual­ity of­fer­ing from an un­der­rated Aus­tralian song­writer.

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