Album Review

Tightrope Highway

Tightrope Highway

by Motocade

7.5 / 10
May 23rd 2009

Reviewed by Amanda Ratcliffe

2005 saw the formation of four piece indie-rock act Motocade who have developed their unique sound over the years to bring us their solid debut album, Tightrope Highway. They’ve built themselves up from touring our country and have seen success from the releases of two immaculate EP’s – the first being self-titled Motocade, which threw them into the spotlight over the entire year of 2006. And their infamous second named Into The Fall, featuring instant TV and Radio hit My Friends which was enjoyed by thousands at some of our largest events like, Big Day Out, Rhythm And Vines and Homegrown. They’ve been constantly gaining fans and recognition over the years it’s taken to release their album, so the anticipation and hype surrounding it have come as no real surprise.

Turn on your radio or telly these days, and you’re likely to be treated to the first single off Tightrope Highway cleverly named Oldest Trick In The Book. It’s a catchy tune that is receiving all the attention it’s worthy of, and gives you an excellent indication of what their debut album sounds like. It’s punchy with front man, Eden Mulhollands erratic vocals and has music from the tight crew to match. If you know their EP’s, you’ll find this to be a new sound from the boys which I’ve noticed at gigs of theirs over the past couple of years. It’s definitely an exciting change that’s not to be ignored, and one that I’d be proud to watch them successfully take to the world.

You’ll see a softer side to the band in the first few tracks and even hear snippets of their 2008 single, Soap Opera in the sugary song, Kissed In Time. It boasts all the charming freshness I remember from the first time I saw the lads grace the stage with fellow kiwi boys Pluto, which is something I deeply admire about this entire album. The first glimpses of Mulholland’s distinctive vocals come from Flying Saucer and Commandeering which are really quite sweet and are guaranteed to steal at least a few hearts with lyrics like, ‘Hey little darling don’t you see, all those big things they ain’t so scary’. Of course it wouldn’t be Motocade without throwing in some melodic ‘ooohing’ that they’re so well known for, and there’s plenty of that to feast on throughout, let me assure you.

She Got Deaf is one we were informed would appear on their album at an intimate gig a few years back, so I’m glad to see the guys stuck with it. I’ve got fond memories of that show so this song has a ‘jam session’ feel to me. It’s relaxed with a punchy beat and despite the name is an easy listen that could even be enjoyed over a nice cup of tea. Radio favourite My Friends is slotted in half way through the album which surprised me as it already features on their Into The Fall EP that came out in 2007. In its place I would love to have seen Soap Opera which is equally as catchy minus the huge amount of airplay of My Friends. Still, it’s a delightful track that I’m happy to listen to over and over, and one I think of as an ‘old favourite’. Another surprise comes from the track Tightrope Highway which again is quite different to the lads’ earlier sound. It’s one of the more unique songs on the album, and to be honest I’m glad there’s not more like it. The lyrics are great, but the idea behind the backing vocals is questionable. Luckily their latest single release, Oldest Trick In The Book along with Comeback Kid and Octopus quickly make up for it with their more familiar sound and beat. Knowing and loving their older pieces, it took a few listens to understand where they’re headed as we rapidly approach a new decade. But I’ve come to embrace it and can recommend the album to both first timers and fans from way back when the band first started out. These guys know what they’re doing, and I think Tightrope Highway will be the one take them to places that they should have been years ago.

Amanda Ratcliffe

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