Immaculate Machine - High On Jackson Hill
Michael James Hall 01/05/2009
Hailing from Victoria in Canada and recording their latest album in songwriter Brooke Gallupe's parents' home, we may as well get the Arcade Fire thing out of the way immediately: Immaculate Machine sometimes sound a bit like Arcade Fire.
With that in the bag we can move on and explore this leafy, lovely, wild and woolly record having already dealt with the elephant in the room.
Beginning at the begin, with opener 'Don't Build the Bridge', we are plunged into the warm embrace of an alternative world of nursery rhyme lyricism, choral vocals and classic riffs that could have come out of a box marked 'Classic Riffs'. It's a grand place to be, a late '60s - early '70s place to be, and one may be inspired to either grow a beard or plant a flower immediately.
We roll nicely into The Band-influenced 'Thank Me Later', that contorts itself from, at it's beginning, a head bobbing, stomping pop tune into it's final moments of yelping, shrieking Stones lust.
Sufficiently sexually and harmonically charged we move through the classy, female led ballad 'You Destroyer', then via the mariachi wilderness of storming potential anthem 'Sound the Alarms' and land at the feet of 'He's A Biter' which, to be as clear as possible, starts like a great Pixies song then morphs neatly into making you wonder how you've ended up listening to Cheap Trick covering T-Rex.
There's further balladry to come with the wordless, phasered chorus of 'I Know It's Not as Easy' which also boasts a nice line in menacing David Lynch guitar, then we're back to the big, blustering chant along pop with 'Primary Colours'.
Next we're headed into Garage country with the party fun of 'Neighbours Don't Mind' swiftly followed with album highlight 'And It Was', a delicate song of lost love proffering '50s twang guitar and luscious dual vocals.
Our travels then lead us through the hysterical Violent Femmes folk of 'You Got Us Into this Mess' - a timely reminder of the type of thing Weezer were once so capable of; and 'Only Love You For Your Car', a Jonathan Richman-esque charmer filled with genuine humour.
Sadly, all journeys come to an end and our last stop is 'Blurry Days', a wistful, misty-eyed four part harmony folk belter that sweetly encapsulates the heart of the record.
Weary from our trip, but undoubtedly exhilarated we find that we have been in the company of a great, sometimes inspired band that know both how to throw a party and deal with the comedown.
A loving hug of a record that should see many more hearts open to Immaculate Machine.