This is the fifth studio album from Jay Watson, the Australian multi-instrumentalist who has collaborated widely with both fellow Australian acts Pond and Tame Impala for well over a decade.
Arriving in what is for many of us under eighty the strangest year we have ever known, it is the sort of record that might be absolutely perfect for chilling out in the sunshine with, if only this listener wasn’t closer to Perth, Scotland, than Perth, Australia (one thing that hasn’t changed in these turbulent times is the miserable Scottish weather). But sometimes it’s a record’s place to transport you away, and young Mr. Watson certainly succeeds at that, at least some of the time.
I spent a lot of time trying to get my head round this record. Not because it’s a particularly complex album to understand- it’s not – but because the first couple of listens went right over my head. It must be said that it is very pleasant Sunday afternoon listening some of it, not a pastoral record but gently psychedelic. It’s a record that wants to defy categorisation rather than that actually being the case.
Perhaps part of the problem is that there are moments when it does go rather wrong. ‘Airwalkin’ seems to be constructed as if Watson has intentionally tried to make a record that sounded like INXS had been remixed by the Avalanches, without anyone coming out of it particularly well. It must also be said that the horns on track four ‘The Thrill Of Doing It Right’ are symbolic of the worst of 80s excesses, (and almost forgotten memories of a hideous Billy Corgan solo LP), jarring with the electronics.
The feeling is that had the better tracks been put together it could have been a brilliant EP. Some of the other lesser tracks are all very well when they play yet seem to melt to nothing when the album moves onto the next track. Yet there are indeed those tracks that repeated plays make this listener think how great that EP might be. Album opener ‘Weightless In L.A.’ is gorgeous, and the title track is absolutely fantastic; as in: before it was over I had added it to a playlist. ‘Many Tears To Cry’ and ‘Don’t Let It Go Out’ would also be welcome additions to the EP.
The album does benefit from repeated plays and also from proper listening – it’s not a record that will give up much from simply being background music. The question may be whether people are prepared to persevere with albums, at a time when we’re all feeling rather lethargic and the necessity of an album (as opposed to individual tracks) is being debated.