31 May 2011

Single Twin - marcus teague (2011)

First album for Single Twin, solo project of Marcus Teague, an Australian songwriter previously leader of Deloris.

Some confusion with the title track which is his real name, the reason is I guess that it represents a high amount of personal work and self-reflection (these thirteen songs have been recorded and mixed by Teague himself over a period of no less than six years, in his Melbourne home using only GarageBand and a single Rode NT-1000 microphone), so there is no other subject that himself that he had to fight with in order to finish this record.

Probably the perspective has got limits but I like to analyze this album through and Australian indie looking glass. He offers a collection of pop folk like many others did before, from Robert Forster to Sodastream just to name two, a collection of neat, warm, honest and homemade tracks. But such long term task and ideal can be dissolving as it is not making the album intense or particularly arresting, instead it is pleasant at best, as a piece of local but global craftsmanship where you can see work, patience and abnegation.

I wasn't a fan of Deloris and half of these songs here are if good, average too, only giving some distraction. There is a real authenticity but  with a back to roots direction which could bring you back in the eighties kind of songwriting (clean melody, acoustic guitar, banjo, occasional percussion and  the singer as tutelary figure sharing his emotions), only updated by some modern details made possible by the digital recording approach.

But enough of bitter criticism,  there is also hidden dimension inside certain songs which sometimes just appear and on other songs takes the  lead, there is inside Marcus Teague, another Australia also, the one of Grant MacLennan, of The Apartments, Bluetile Lounge or more recently Firekites or Charge Group, where something more melancholic, tense both mysterious and uneasy for a part, appears.

The intro and last part of  “ Fish In New Leaves” establish such mythology, strange sounds saturating the atmosphere at the beginning and the way he says “lately” at the very end leaves me in a state of shock. “Lately”,  could you repeat please and I listen to the song several times before getting the clear impression that there would be no clear impression but remaining mystery with the special balance of this first song.  With the same level of quality there is "Slow Down Soldier", an instrumental interlude beautifully layered with a sense of unexpected urgency which leaves you speechless.

“Came home dead” plays the role of a hymn. It is a song which surfaced a few years ago while he started to present some songs on his myspace page , so now it sounds for me more like a gimmick about what is Single Twin, a pop folk melody, nice and pleasant but lacking of a break point and unsurprising as I know this song already by heart. In the same category there is “My silken tooth”, a pure and successful exercise of songwriting, voice and acoustic guitar, not particularly original but convincing.

Then there these few songs I don't get, like a too roots & traditional  banjo folk “Dirty Sleeves In The Salty Water”, “Wandering”, embracing again a too typical, confident and obvious kind of melody, the foreseeable love song  “Get To Love You”, or just in the middle of the road with "Long wave" or "Goodnight".

Luckily, with "The Blow (Fell Out The Window)" he returns to much more nuance and self-restraint, a beautiful reflexive song with a nice quiet, appeased and intimately sad and discreet guitar. Marcus Teague closes his debut album with two impressive songs, "Hunter" and " which deserves the sadcore tag and are drifting in the Charge Group territory, which is not a big surprise as Matt Blackman is playing the second guitar on it.

I finish this album half-convinced as what I enjoy is finally relatively peripheral and just a part of the Marcus Teague expression, but it is already something precious.

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