Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kellie Lloyd - Magnetic North review

Unless you live in Australia, Screamfeeder are one of the greatest bands you've probably never heard. Buoyant rock with that distinct Australian indie sound, they exploded out of Brisbane but never really cracked the big time which is a shame - their greatest hits album reads like a secret history of the best pop tunes written in the last twenty years and I think it might be safe to say I may be the only person on the planet who thinks their 2000 album Rocks on the Soul is one of the great lost classics of Australian modern music. In terms of dynamics, their secret weapon was always bassist Kellie Lloyd who brought a sweet urgency to the brash exploits of main man Tim Stewart - here are some examples (if they're on spotify, go check them out).

So it's no surprise that I've fallen deeply for Lloyd's solo album Magnetic North (I'm a bit late as it was released a few months ago). The album is a greater extension of her Screamfeeder work, a set of accomplished and compelling tunes grounded in passion and thoughtful playing. Opener How to get there slowly builds to a guitar freak out which is somewhere between Crazy Horse and Dinosaur Jnr but simultaneously sounds indebted to no one. My favourite track Insect wings on ice might sound like a throw back to 90's girl bands but it transcends this with a searing structure and my favourite line on the album, "...and they didn't throw rocks at you on your wedding day."

What makes this album interesting is its structure because while it isn't implicit that there is a concept or grander narrative, the songs move as if they are part of a greater story centred on a dark heart linked by a four song suite about darkness and night. We are made of stars is a desolate, accusatory ride through the night which leads to the piano and percussive clatter of Constellations. The following track Tu Viens Ici Souvent tumbles through crisis on the back of a lilting piano and cello while Your heart is a hunter builds from that darkness into a a exultant outro where Lloyd sings "Let the night come through." Whether by accident or design, (I might be reading too much into it), the songs link together in a soulful and arresting way.

Foxes down a hole returns the album to lighter, more familiar ground but there really is a sense that this is a record of an artist stretching herself. The final track, Your call is important to us, is an instrumental which has more in common with the Dirty Three than it does the Lloyd's day job in Screamfeeder. This might not be a record for everyone but despite my slavish devotion to Bob Mould's new record, this album is still getting some plays in between which is something of a miracle given how much I love Silver Age. This comes highly recommended and can be bought from Lloyd's website here. Go get it kids...



  1. ah, I remember Screamfeeder. I was once with a friend recording a demo tape at the gloriously lo-brow besser-block studio called Vibrafeel in Inala, west of Brisbane, in the late 80s. Wire fences outer suburbia, and at lunch we saw a guy with a major head injury walk by, bleeding profusely. And that was their main studio at the time. I wonder if GdayMickAtVibrafeel still works there... Small connection, but still.

  2. ... that was a random comment. Have you ever noticed how (short of trolling) a lot of blog/forum comments actually don't respond to anything you've written or raised, but instead are some random, spouting association or oblique tangent the commenter has with either the topic or the broad ballpark theme?

  3. hello! this is such a great review, do you still do reviews?