Classified – Area 13 (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It was about half way through opening salvo Grinding My Teeth that two thoughts popped into my head. The first was that every now and then I catch a sonic whiff of REM. The second was that there was a certain amount of Midnight Oil going on too. Easy references this early on in a review equals lazy journalism. Ah, well, if the cap fits… I’d clarify the former thought by saying that I’m not talking so much about the quirky, angular 80’s REM, but the slick and stadium ready 90’s version. To the latter musing,  I’m thinking that perhaps it’s just a similarity in the accent…does that make me a racist? Perhaps, but again this is a band which rides a pop-rock wave and actually manages to do something interesting with it too. Then Indian Giver kicked in and thankfully I realise that I’m not a racist after all and there is something in the soothing textures and vocal washes contrasting more brash musical statements that connect the two bands. Phew, that was close.

For a band that seems to exist as much as a cover band as they do creating original music, you might have expected much less. Well, shame on you. For that situation says much more about the state of the music industry than it does the ethics of the band. That a band capable of making such a musically deft album have to ply a trade of crowd pleasers rather than adopting a “this is what we do, like it or leave it” attitude speaks volumes. But bills have to be played I guess, so we all play the game.

You know what also speaks volumes…Revolution, a song which sees this Cairns’ five piece adopt a low slung, garage rock vibe, mining the same blend of raw R&B and proto-punk energy that would eventually spill over into a whole new mid-seventies scene. Seeing is Believing shows that they know how to slow things down and work with space, that missing ingredient which most bands in a rush to impress miss entirely and Will The World is the perfect end of gig swan song, a festival anthem to be played as the sun goes down, a tricky beast that wanders between sensitive and sucker-punches. The little devils!

I hope that the band do get to a point when they can exist on just the original material, they deserve to, it’s great. Okay, what they have at the moment might not change the world, but it will certainly make your night. And with any luck it will be the making of the band too.

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