More? - Fast Cars (Method Recordings & Music)
Fast Cars grew out of the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s. Home turf was the fertile Sussex Hotel and they made a modest mark with a couple of EPs before moving on. This five-song CD is their first release in 30 years.
Here’s what a mod band sounds like after it grows up. That’s not being trite or dismissive. Creative people don’t stand still - and bands like Fast Cars were no exception. Guitarist Fabian Byrne went on to the dance-orientated Fiction Romance, shifted into management and ran the Method label that gave a leg-up to bands like Allniters, Paul Kelly, Spy vs Spy and The Amazing Wooloomooloosers. So you’d expect “More?” to sound different to Fast Cars of the ‘80s.
Now a vehicle for singer Di Levi and Byrne, this album recalls the direction in which Flaming Hands went after branching out from the inner-city Sydney pubs and signing to a major label. Flaming Hands ultimately became Julie Mostyn and guitarist Jeff Sullivan. They took on a studio polish and embraced a strong electro-psychedelic bent. (Flaming Hands’ output from that point on was underwhelming but that’s a story for another day.)
“Satin & Bones” is the opening cut on “More?” and blows away preconceptions about the old band’s mod beginnings. Heavily orchestrated, it’s more “Sgt Pepper” than “Who’s Next” and that's its strength. Di Levi’s crystal clear vocal is a stand-out on a track that updates the freakbeat sounds that must have been an influence on the original line-up.
“Television Buzz” is polished power-pop, mostly instrumental and signalled by a cracking snare beat at the start. Harmony vocals and Byrne’s neat guitar-work are transposed against more strings and the result is ethereal. Same goes for "Do You Really Wwant More?" where the really is calling out for a “Baba O’Reilly” reference but Levi’s wonderful vocal is the real star.
“Mindset” is more lush pop with a psych-folk bent that wouldn’t be out of place on an enlightened, grown-up radio station’s playlist (if such things exist) while “Ode To The Mustang” flicks the dial to the sort of trippy murmured-word stuff that Tom Verlaine was exploring on his mid-‘80s “Cover” album. I have a low tolerance for trance but your verdict may vary.