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Watch Me Disappear

Bernard Zuel, Reviewer
October 10, 2008

This blend of blue-eyed soul, relaxed tunes and subtle rhythm will polarise fans.

Augie March.

Augie March.



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Auggie March
Sony BMG

Augie March has never been a simple band. Made up of five strong-willed (very distinct) individuals, there has never been one clear Augie March style. Or maybe it's true that for listeners there has never been one way to approach Augie March. Are they an art rock band with tunes? Pop with pomp and poetry? Gnarly grumps with a romantic bent?

Life doesn't get any clearer this time around either, with an album that no doubt will polarise fans.

Certainly, Watch Me Disappear is the most direct, most outright pop album the Victorians have made — in as much as a band with no obvious ability to put on a dance move, more facial hair than hair extensions and that crippling double disability of being male and mid-30s can ever be said to make pop music. It has ballads of sentiment but no sentimentality, wholly convincing melodies and a 1970s tone. I don't mean punk, prog or disco but the blend of blue-eyed soul, relaxed tunes and subtle rhythm that marked, say, Fleetwood Mac at their best or, more recently, Crowded House (as captured, beautifully, in Lupus, which could well have come from the Finn brothers' best moment together, Woodface).

It has some of Glenn Richards's most complex lyrical journeys, some of them genuinely moving for their craft as much as their heart (take note of the tortured emotions in the convict era-set The Slant), some brutal and almost inflammatory but always thought-provoking ( Mugged By The Mob, for example).

Similarly, it's true that it is in many ways an obvious sequel to the surprisingly successful album Moo You Bloody Choir, which, thanks to One Crowded Hour, finally brought their brilliance to a sizeable audience. That is, it's a further crystallisation or distillation of their early baroque style into something more easily digested. There is a clarity here more striking than before and a removal of any clutter around the voice of Glenn Richards, which is the centrepiece of most songs.

But it is also dotted with tracks that have obvious antecedents in that bustling, piled-on-and-glorying-in-it style that marked the band's superb Strange Bird album (to these ears still their finest moment). Here they remind you that energy harnessed is still one of the most potent weapons in any band's arsenal.

There isn't another band like this in Australia. Still. I like that.

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