11 Track, LP (2012, Microphone & Loudspeaker/MGM)
Related: Charge Group.
Pinging between ideas with an uncommon resilience, Charge Group certainly don’t limit themselves on their long-gestating second album. There are so many angles, each accompanied by a distinct emotional trigger: the sincerity of singer-guitarist Matt Blackman, the mood-swinging violin of Jason Tampake and the post-rock fluidness of bassist Adam Jesson and drummer Matt Rossetti. As a band, they move from taut instrumental runs and foreboding narratives to romantic musings and thoughtful indie rock without losing that clear-eyed dialogue between players.
Not just a follow-up to 2008’s debut Escaping Mankind, this self-recorded album comes on the heels of last year’s single ‘Run’, a chase-theme instrumental that evolves into a paranoid rock anthem with the refrain, “I ran the opposite way.” It earned a film clip helmed by actor Brendan Cowell, got remixed by The Presets’ Kim Moyes and, as a glimpse into the Sydney quartet, nailed their brazen spontaneity.
At the same time, most of this album is much more peaceful. New single ‘Broken Sunlight’ is amiably melodic – although with a steely edge – while the acoustic ‘Dominoes’ extends its delicate vibe to Marie Fox’s flute reverie and backing vocals from New York songwriter Willa Roberts. The closing instrumental ‘Janet’s Song’ is starkly beautiful, while ‘The Jaguar Complex’ patches together breathy textures and ‘Volcano’ and ‘I Saw the Leaves Falling Back to Their Branches’ are unabashedly heartfelt ballads. And even with vocals, ‘Resistencia’ swims almost into ambience.
Charge Group’s rock imperative doesn’t come up much. The instrumental ‘Search Party’ is like a test run for scoring its titular scene in some movie, whereas ‘Hearth of Your Home’ teases with outlying feedback but remains a poised mood piece rather than a kneejerk climax. Even the yearning of opener ‘The Gold is Gone’ is set to a simmer, not a boil. ‘Run’, then, proves the anomaly on a sensitive, slow-burn record that’s much more about sighing open spaces than tight, fast-paced confines.
by Doug Wallen