Antarctica - Marilyn Rose and the Thorns (In the Vault Records)
This album is worth four bottles. Possibly more. I’ll know in a year’s time, when I’ve finished listening to it. “Antarctica” is a sleeper, and it’ll get you in the end. Probably at night, it feels stronger at night. Lex from Seedy Jesus did the cover, and it’s a beauty, really smart.
And, yes, I’m going to repeat myself: the world is currently awash with brilliant music, much of it - like “Antarctica” - very strong and remarkably commercial. Given the airplay and the backing, "Antarctica" should be in thousands of homes around the world; certainly the USA would like this outfit. That said, I’ve not yet seen Melbourne’s Marilyn Rose and the Thorns - but I’ll rectify that as soon as I can.
“Antarctica” is a fine record with a real flavour and feel to it. Rose’s voice is the first thing that gets your attention, it’s big, strong and soars. The title-track leaps out like a rather sleek panther, and then Marilyn comes in…
Those of us who recall the world a long time ago will immediately recall a period, and a vocalist, but that’s no matter. That time is gone, thank Christ. This time is now, and Marilyn Rose and the Thorns make their songs roar while they seem to float. It’s a hell of an effect. See, Rose has a certain type of voice, which demands a smart, tight bunch of musicians to bring a flow to the complexity, to make is all seem easy. Otherwise … no, it won’t work.
I don’t know the background of the guitarists, Rusty Teluk and Leon Storch, but they are the perfect, huge accompaniment to Rose’s gigantic torch. It might not sound like it on first listen, but there are so many small things going on, the guitars in particular are precisely placed and imaginatively realised: is that a synth? or an organ? no, it really is a guitar. I mean, even the simple harmonies add so much.
The nine songs here are excellent for taking you away into the aural landscape conjured up by the Thorns - I must also congratulate Ash Wednesday, because his production is top of the range. It takes someone of rare talent to seamlessly knit an album together so you can listen to it over and over, without pause, as we can here.
Jack Howard’s trumpet is a masterstroke addition to the band’s sound, by the way. It’s not just Hunters & Collectors who benefit from another layer of brilliance.
There are two well-chosen covers here; apart from allowing Marilyn to perform a decent reinterpretation of the lyric, there’s a good chance those who aren’t by now familiar with the likes of Kim Salmon and Rowland S. Howard can now have a doorway to riches opened.
Now, of course, I want to see Marilyn Rose live. And you really should check out “Antarctica".