Album Review

Selph Titled

Selph Titled

by X-Ray Charles


Melted Ice Cream
8 / 10
24th July 2013

Reviewed by James Manning


Christchurch duo X-Ray Charles (Brian Ferry and James Sullivan) begin where their Flying Nun forefathers left off and spread their jangly, abrasive spirit over the lo-fi guitar pop template.

With Selph Titled, their second release to date, they offer a collection of six bare-boned scuzzy tunes that rattle and clash with a junk-yard charm; beautiful melodies retain their raw strength through the 4-track recording, burying the vocals even further beneath a fuzzy fog.

Opener 'Field Recording of Animal Noises' is a fun little number that be-bops along a catchy melody, with both drums and guitar in loose lo-fi interlock. Then there's 'As A Matter of Fact', a cover of Scottish alternative 90's band Spare Snare, where we see Ferry and Sullivan filling the numb atmosphere of the original with knee-jerking primal swagger.

The record goes by swiftly, it jitters and jives with a nervous liveliness that can be credited to Ferry and Sullivan's energetic output. 'Heavy Fast' and 'Supersoaker' form a confident, aggressive one-two punch; the first featuring introspective lyrics ("it's got heavy, heavy fast"), and the latter self-referencing its title with a loud, dark surf vibe throughout.

Only two months ago saw the release of their first EP Weird Hybrid, a handful of material treading similar ground but where Weird Hybrid let the mad scientist loose on experimental lo-fi, Selph Titled keeps him on one direct track. The result is leaner and more focused release, offering a little less spontaneity and a little more balance.

That's not to suggest their ear-splintering tendencies have been completely discarded in favour of catchier hooks and simpler structures though; the ferocity is still there, it's just evolved alongside the duo's finely retuned sonic vision.


Field Recordings of Animal Noises
Field Recordings of Animal Noises, by X-Ray Charles
(2013)
http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/review/841/Selph-Titled.utr


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