You'll Turn Into Me
10 Track, LP (2012, Quelle Barbe/Inertia)
Related: Split Seconds.
If you’re a fan of painstaking songcraft, there’s a good chance you’ve brushed across Sean Pollard’s name before. The Perth troubadour came up in the early 2000s as frontman for now-disbanded pop outfit New Rules for Boats. In the course of releasing two EPs and a debut LP with that band, Pollard toured with Bob Evans and The Panda Band and picked up solo sets supporting Sufjan Stevens and Final Fantasy. Until now, however, he’s never enjoyed a proper promotional push.
Since forming new outfit Split Seconds just two years ago, Pollard and his bandmates (themselves plucked from a who’s who of Perth outfits, including Emperors, Faith in Plastics and Sons of Rico) have become darlings of the touring and festival circuit. Just look at their recent achievements: five WAMi awards; national support duties for The Panics, Jebediah and Owl Eyes, along with a whole raft of festival slots including Southbound, Pyramid Rock, Homebake and Big Day Out; not to mention considerable rotation on Triple J. The challenge for Split Seconds now is to maintain the momentum they have already established. And what better way to embrace the spotlight than to pull up stumps, relocate to Melbourne and release an album jam-packed with quality songwriting and well-crafted pop tunes?
With only one tune making it past the four-minute mark, You’ll Turn Into Me is a compact gem. It tilts this way and that to show different facets of Pollard: his ruminative side, devotional side, wicked humor, skewed insight and familiarity. Each song does something distinct both sonically and lyrically, filtering one rarified but relatable sensibility through guise after revealing guise.
From the opening chords of ‘Security Light’, it’s immediately clear Pollard isn’t an artist who changes much from outfit to outfit. The gifted singer-songwriter has always had a knack for good-naturedly ambitious rhymes and tingly everyday details shared over shopworn guitars embellished with handclaps or the occasional whistle. In the vein of Paul Kelly, Darren Hanlon and David McComb (all of whom are clearly big influences), it is Pollard’s distinctive narrative vision that holds it all together, rewarding the attention this album requires. Current single and Triple J favourite ‘Top Floor’ isn’t the album’s best track – that’s ‘Maiden Name’, a jaunt about broken hearts and growing older – but it’s the best encapsulation of Pollard’s gift for funny, pathos-laden detail.
You’ll Turn Into Me is also a pretty faithful representation of Split Seconds’ live show. With little distracting studio gloss, it catches Pollard’s boyfriendable baritone, Benjamin Golby’s tinkling keys, Rhys and Vaughn Davies’ gentle guitar and bass and James Trewenack’s stripped-down kit, which he plays with panache. Even additional players in the form of songstress Felicity Groom (who lends her delicate croon to ‘Maiden Name’) and former member Todd Pickett (who harmonises with the rest of the band on ‘All You Gotta Do’) blend comfortably enough to add to the album’s feeling of shared intimacy, rather than subtract from it. Likewise, the production is as warm and intimate as the band’s live shows, romanticising the messy, ever-passing moment rather than striving for a digital perfection Pollard probably considers drab and sterile.
Albums this unpretentious are increasingly rare, and that is exactly what makes You’ll Turn Into Me so seductive – it’s lightweight stuff, but that’s where its charm lies.
Listen to 'You’ll Turn Into Me':
by Jen Peterson-Ward