Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

Naivety is the key: pop music disinterred, fragmented, recast as lovelorn Antipodean dreams. Drum machines plink and plonk, basslines stumble, keyboards are upfront and guilt-free: vocals sweeping in with the simplicity of childhood, the siren call of the playground. Entrancing in a timeless minimal manner. A sugary shambles.

So we’re excavating the past again, this time round alighting in Australia forty years ago – another peek into a world long-vanished: a bagful of youthful endeavour cast aside as lives get lived, hearts get scuffed-up and dreams… well who knows what happens to dreams. Pel Mel sound like a popped-up version of Tallulah Gosh (remember them?) or a sweetened Shop Assistants: it`s carefully-crafted, manicured, sparkling vignettes of youthful angst. The Cocteaus dialled down a notch, maybe, mainlining the spirit of Ivor Cutler all the way across the water.

Shipwrecked is wonderful: a tale of transformation, of lives crashing upon the rocks of reality. Slow and low, acres of space amongst the so minimal it’s not even there beat – keening vocal lines holding it all together in the face of disintegration. It’s arid and featureless and utterly beguiling: a mini-classic I’d wager.

Mr President ups the funkiness a fraction: chicken scratch guitar licks, organ riffs, and live drums, underpinning the wide-eyed vocals. Its disco for delinquents, beats for brats, Orange Juice’s Rip It Up reconfigured for the dives of Sydney. It’s quirky, fun, the years slipping away: un-polished and all the better for it. The key again being the child-like simplicity that lies beneath it, a beating heart made up of Calvin and Hobbes and Catcher In The Rye.

The title track opens up into wider imaginative shores, the band stretching out and switching it up, gaining in confidence and trying something new. Tangy, bittersweet, tales of growing up and going bold. Candy-coloured dream sequences and after-midnight shenanigans. You wonder how the band members are feeling now: all this youthful ephemera swept up from the ashes, thrust into a spotlight that they must have assumed would never seek them out. Mixed emotions you would imagine – the parading of young hearts dimmed by time and circumstance – still running free, but shackled now by all the ties that none of us can avoid.

Late, Late Show is a little gem, a deep dive into a past frozen in aspic: those first faltering steps into adulthood, into figuring out just who you might be, and where you might decide to go. It is charming, fluffy, feminist pop music par excellence, the antidote to macho muso nonsense. If your disco tilts to the leftfield then step right in: Pel Mel has something magical that they’d like you to hear. Prepare to have your socks charmed right off.

Pel Mel Late Late Show

Pel Mel`s Late, Late Show can be ordered directly from Efficient Space. 

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