Former Bamboos buddies Graham Pogson (G) and Ella Thompson (L) are a band on a mission. The sound of their debut album lies somewhere in the realm of electro/funk/soul/r&B/pop, and while caring about fitting into an easily-defined category is nowhere near the agenda, the duo’s obvious goal appears to be getting people dancing. This generous 14-song collection will most certainly do that and more, as killer track after killer track is revealed and at no point does the quality take a dip. A constant throughout is the ghost of ’80s electronica, albeit strained through a filter of contemporary Australian pop. ‘Number One’ is perhaps the silkiest track here, while single ‘Hallucinate’ brings the funk and ‘Grip’ the bass. Elsewhere, ‘Scully’ introduces a little menace and ‘Cheap Shot’ is Thriller-era pop with better vocals. Thompson must be a contender for busiest musician of the year, having released a record with Dorsal Fins and a solo album in the past few months, and as with anything she is involved in, her voice which steals the show; she could probably sing pages of the dictionary and her soulful delivery would still melt the hardest of hearts. Touch doesn’t sound like much else being released right now and debut albums shouldn’t be this assured. What the GL have these guys been drinking?
Listen up, class: no talking at the back and spit out that gum. Today’s lesson incorporates history, music, a multi-talented Melburnian, and a debut album featuring one of the finest female voices in the country right now. Roman mythology 101 tells us Janus was the god of all beginnings, synonymous with doorways and the opportunities they present. He also had two faces to look towards both the past and present, and at times sported a hipster beard. All of these elements are relatable to the form and feel of Thompson’s excellent debut LP (besides the facial fuzz, obvs.); these songs build on her work with GL, Axolotl, the Bamboos and Dorsal Fins and allow her to flaunt her more-than considerable vocal talents in a solo setting. The two-headed depiction of a revered Roman is apt in that there are several styles and moods present throughout the ten tracks. New psychedelia, ‘80s synth-pop, sparse balladry, and layers of distorted, dreamy loveliness provide the backdrop to Thompson’s tuneful talents. Hazy opener ‘Drift’ and Spector-esque ‘Away Too Long’ seduce and spellbind, whereas first single ‘Arcade’ is a honey-drenched slice of synth-pop cherry pie that oozes contradiction, and things get weird on the six-minute ‘Taller’. However, it’s when Thompson gives her vocals some oomph that the song benefits most, as on second single ‘I Go Over’, much like Dorsal Fins’ excellent ‘Monday Tuesday’. This ain’t no sunny synth-pop record by any stretch, though; there’s misery in many of the lyrics (see closer ‘Losing You’), but despair has never sounded so good. With Janus, Thompson has kicked in the door of her solo career, and it’s open for business and for students of music to enjoy. Do your homework right and get on board.