Operator Please - Gloves

Tim Miller 23/06/2010

Rating: 4/5

I'm not sure that everyone has been looking forward to Gloves, the follow up long-player from Australian racket Operator Please, as much as I have. Their brilliant and infectious debut was only mildly received on this site two years ago, but without doubt, the still gratingly young five-piece are an Aussie storm to be reckoned with - certainly live - proving themselves to be accomplished songwriters, with a catalogue of songs capable in the same breath of turns of genius and unrestrained fun.

It's interesting, then, that for the large part Gloves purposely eschews that youthful, shouty punk-pop that propelled Yes Yes Vindictive along. Favourites like 'Just a Song About Ping-Pong' and 'Zero! Zero!' are short on second album siblings, as the band - led by vocalist/guitarist Amandah Wilkinson - display a surprisingly swift maturing that often eludes the second albums of far more established artists, and Gloves is all the better for it.

That said though, there's an almost literal introduction, 'Catapult' kick-starting the album with its thumping bassline and punch-packing chorus. Hot on its heels, second track 'Just Kiss' manifests from a rapid buzz-violin opening into twitchy verses, building to a stunning, lingering chorus, whose line ”Let's just kiss, and move away from here” instantly catches the imagination, dripping with regret for a missed or lost love. It's haunting, yet bold, and quite possibly Operator Please's best song to date.

Where Amandah and the band - violinist Taylor Henderson, keys player Chris Holland, bassist Ashley McConnell and drummer Tim Commanduer - seem to have matured most is in their approach to their songsmithery. The songs remain spirited and are often driven apace, but there's more guile to the delivery now: take 'Oh My', the perfect soundtrack to a sprint down an empty motorway in the dead of night. Amandah's purred vocal is barely more than conversational, while the prominent synths and violin layers soon outweigh the guitar. On 'Back And Forth', too, the gleaming sound and funky guitar licks hone in on a 'before-their-time' classic sound, echoed later on in the glam synth stabs and '80s Madonna disco-lite feel to 'Jealous'.

In fact, the guitars firmly take a back seat throughout the album's second five-tenths, as Operator Please's new found enthusiasm for electro sounds prosper (explaining Taylor's double credit on MySpace as a second keys player). 'Loops' is almost Rihanna or Gaga-aping with its heavy drum hits and growling bass, and album closer 'Like Magic' is pure throwback, with wall-to-wall synth melodies skating over the doe-eyed vocal an inescapable guilty pleasure. Only the cheerleader chants of 'Volcanic' come across a bit too Operator Please 'old skool', and that's soon rectified when said track transforms into another blistering punk-pop gem.

If you weren't that enamoured with Yes Yes Vindictive, the fast and impressive development Operator Please have made since they released that debut as teenagers in 2008 will largely pass your ears by. If you're a fan, or even simply neutrally disposed, then Gloves has plenty of substance about it for anyone who has time for a mix of Noisettes, Ladyhawke, Sky Larkin, or just good pop songs - especially with an '80s tint. Gloves, like its predecessor, is a fine collection of assured, catchy, irresistibly enjoyable tracks that retain enough edge to keep their young fan base happy, but at the same time see the band stepping confidently onto a superb new plane. Chances are, there'll be a few bigger steps forward still to come.

Released 31 May 2010 on Brille Records (UK)