If there’s one thing Melbourne’s James Wallace can’t be accused of it’s a lack of ambition. Modestly described as “dreampop”, Wallace filters psychedelic rock, prog, indie and shoegaze into his vibrant second album ‘Nectarine’.
‘Uncovered Sun’ and ‘Fading Light’ set an early standard for subdued verses which explode into bright choruses with the Wallace vocal in turn converting from a hushed whisper into the kind of impassioned falsetto which would give The Bee Gees a run for their money. On a couple of occasions this technique proves to be a limitation but at its most exuberant, as on ‘Maze’, he sounds like a solo version of Foster The People, complete with epic fade-out. There’s an awful lot to be discovered towards the middle of the record where Wallace proves extremely adept at giving his songs unexpected twists. ‘Nobody’s Watching’ and ‘Somewhere’ meander into psychedelic territory whilst eleven minute centrepiece ‘Ice Cream’ resembles a multi-part suite as it begins like a crestfallen ballad but ends in a warped guitar wig-out. Only the proggy build-up to ‘Don’t You Believe’ comes across as over-inflated but at least Wallace makes up for it with the 1980’s last dance vibe of ‘Orion’.
As much as Wallace strives to make each song more experimental than the last, he seldom loses sight of the importance of melody. Furthermore, his performance in front of the mic may be irksome to a few but no one can deny his commitment to the cause.
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Foster The People, Deerhunter