Album Review

Forever Scene Changes

Forever Scene Changes

by The Situations

9 / 10
5th October 2015

Reviewed by Jackson Payne

South Auckland-born group The Situations are our generation's Big Star. This is not an overstatement. Make no mistake: In 10, 20, 30 years you'll be digging through boxes of 7-inch records looking for copies of 'The Great Barrier' and asking yourself how it was possible The Situations weren't world famous.

A lot has happened in the eight years since their last album Get the Basics – including having a band member relocate to the Middle East – but here they are again, finally, and with the best album to come out of New Zealand since the Mint Chicks' Crazy? Yes. Dumb? No. The low-key 'Hamburg' opens the album. It is a gambit and the song, like the rest of the album, creeps up until you're humming along. The self-deprecating 'Nomansland' is perhaps the band's take on the place in which they have been cast in New Zealand music.

Listeners could be forgiven for thinking that someone had changed the record when bluegrass number 'What Love Is' comes on. Although vastly different than the rest of the album it is somehow not out of place. The Situations even do over-sentimentality well. 'Pcy's Everlasting Journey' is the album's most understated – and best track. It is a timeless song about the age-old question of conflicting religious beliefs, optimistically offering a solution.

The album features Rhe Situations' best singles from the past two years, 'Girl in Blue' and 'Guns', in which the use of brass instruments is reminiscent of the Saints' 'Know Your Product'. The most poignant song on the album has to be 'Idle', reflecting the band's collective apprehension about being 30-something with Glen belting out: “Am I really living? Have I already died?”.

Bob Frisbee's production is perfect for The Situations. Although some of his previous releases have been too particular, there is no such evidence here. It lets The Situations' incredible musicianship shine through with artful restraint. Add to that a healthy dose of wit and honesty, and you have the best pop band in the world today. Any one of these 10 songs could be a hit but, like Big Star, the sad truth is that none of them are likely to be.

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