Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dappled Cities -- Granddance (2007)

Dappled Cities -- Granddance (Dangerbird)

This Australian band is a revelation. On their second album, they bring back a lot of memories of what was good about indie rock towards the second half of the ‘80s.

The songs shimmer like The Pale Saints or the most elegant work of The Chills, but there is an undercurrent of oddball folk-pop a la early James or Hellfire Sermons. Yet there is a quality to their music that allows them to stand with Coldplay and Keane, neither of whom share the Cities’ various quirks. And at times they build up the passion to levels on par with The Arcade Fire. Yes, there is something special here.

Singles don’t get much better than the band’s signature track, “Fire Fire Fire”. The song fades in with some jangling, reverbed guitar. Then the drums kick in, with some ringing guitar noises filling the gap between beats. The melody threads through these elegant and driving elements, Dave Rennick ruing a missed opportunity, at first in a low key manner, and becoming increasingly regretful and passionate. The song is sad and anthemic in an unusual and striking manner.

The title cut has even more sweeping grandeur, with Tim Derricourt’s wobbly and enduring vocal style. The opener “Holy Chord” attacks in a different way. Derricourt sings over some odd sort of folk-waltz thing, reaching up to his falsetto to intone the title phrase. This slightly dissonant music finally resolves itself when the guitars kick in. But the passion doesn’t abate. It’s stirring.

As is “The Eve The Girl”, which sounds like the great lost Verlaines song, with inventive twists of melody and dynamics, and cutting lines like “your siblings had no kin worth dying/or fighting for.” This is big music from guys who aim high and hit the mark pretty much every time.

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