Review: The Earth – Off/On 1
Published on July 18th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Super Furry Animals drummer Dafydd Ieuan + Catatonia guitarist Mark Roberts + bassist Tristan Marley + singer Dionne Bennett = Welsh supergroup The Earth…and super their debut album Off/On 1 most certainly is.
There’s just something to revel and luxuriate in on every track here, so much so that you have to hope there’s a future to Ieuan and Roberts as a songwriting partnership.
Iuean told us they’ve already written a second album when we spoke to him last month, so we’re encouraged on that front.
Right, the songs. Well, opening track and lead single “How the West Was Won” chuffs along in the grand, elegant manner of “Atomik Lust”, Ieuan’s contribution to SFA LP Love Kraft, and it’s just as infectious.
It’s sophisticated yet not overcomplicated pop songwriting with a big beating heart and plenty of colours inhabiting the mix, setting the tone for what’s to follow by slipping subtly unorthodox touches about its ‘lighters-in-the-air’ singalong self.
Thusly is it invested it with an irresistibly fuzzy sort of psych-lite, while Bennett’s octave leap towards the end is thrillingly effective. “How the West Was Won” could be a real festival favourite given the opportunity, and it’s merely the tip of one tasty-ass iceberg.
The energised, cascading classic soul of “Operator” rivals the poppier moments of Hey Venus! and International Velvet, a strong ELO influence revealing itself with the expert deployment of a minor 7th chord.
“I Deserve You” is corking stuff; its juddering guitar effect feels incongruous but plays a big part in making this what it is, as does the ace brass section and lyrics such as “Don’t pass me up without good reason / Don’t pick the fruits that aren’t in season / It’s not too bitter a pill to swallow / When I leave this room, you’ll follow”.
Treats are piled high like a Scooby Doo sandwich: there’s the magnificent, synth-swooshing melodrama of “Elektrikity”, the exquisite application of flute to the early-Beatles-esque “Last Orders”, the Beach Boys-y a cappella intro of “Careful What You Wish For” (tarnished slightly by Bennett’s ensuing ‘Bodyform advert’ warbling, but over the course of the album she’s well in credit)…
…and the unexpected riot that is the scuzzy, ‘angry Primal Scream’ punk blast of “Tell on You”. Ace, ace and thrice ace.
Perhaps the best of the lot is “How Come”, the driving, buzzing keyboard sound of which combines with the crunchy, breezily dissonant guitar chords to quite brilliant effect.
It’s all kinds of wonderful: great chorus, great wistful guitar lick to follow the chorus, and Bennett’s inquisition of “Is this a special kind of dance? / Or did your toenails grow too long? / Maybe give you one more chance”…did we say “ace” already?
We’ve thrown enough superlatives into the mix as it is and we haven’t even covered the bountiful joys of “Rotten to the Core”, “Rubbish Man” and suitably comedown-y closer “2 High”.
Put simply, Off/On 1 is a masterful display of deceptively simple pleasures, an adorable throwback to how bands used to go about their business in the days when you needed a little bit more about you than just the right haircut and a “raw energy” (NME shorthand for “no other redeeming features”).
May The Earth keep on spinning.
Off/On 1 is out now on Strangetown Records.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!