How I Learned To Stop Worrying
13 Track, LP (2008, )
Related: Red Jezebel.
With a title that alludes to the Kubrick-directed Dr. Strangelove, How I Learned... shoots for Wes Anderson weirdness but occasionally strays into Rob Reiner territory. Released from the major label where their career had stalled, the West Australian four-piece have produced a fiery start to this soundtrack for an imagined film full of B-movie heroes, villains and gunslingers. ‘Kicking Deadly Sins’ (featuring a “Gandhi with a 45 in tow” ready to “shoot your ass down”) and ‘Lost My Gun’, in particular, are rocking, catchy tunes, with singer Paul Wood’s hushed voice proving an effective counterpoint to the more explosive music. With producer Dave Parkin now a full-fledged member, guitars screech and bleed, and an impressive array of sonic ideas make for diverse, surprise-a-minute listening.
The big-screen ambition they sing of on ‘Hollywood’ can have its downside, however, and too often the second half plays it safe, with snarling lyrics of threat and debauchery reined in by flat songwriting. On ‘Find Our Way Back Home’, Wood sings “Whiskey and cocaine, no wine list tonight/Look out kids, we’re in the mood to fight” as guitars clatter around him. But it’s held back by a tune which is altogether too nice, uncannily recalling The Wallflowers’ snooze FM staple ‘One Headlight’, while on ‘Amsterdam’ they sound more like they’re drifting towards suburbia than heading for that city’s famed red light district. ‘The Piper is The Devil’s Pilgrim’ is an exception to the slump, roughly approximating The Sleepy Jackson’s off-kilter country moments to great effect. Some definite highlights then, but it probably lacks that killer twist before the end credits.
by Daniel Herborn