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Album Review
Pretty Cool Optical Illusions

Pretty Cool Optical Illusions
by Sherpa

Muzai Records

Review Date
25th March 2011
Reviewed by
Steve Newell

Plenty of bands use the EP format to forge some kind of musical identity, and this was true even before technology shrunk our attention spans. Muzai Records act Sherpa go where others have been before in trying on a few different guises on this, their second EP. Clocking in at around the twelve minute mark, the five songs that make up Pretty Cool Optical Illusions demonstrate an ease with diff’rent strokes of styles, hanging around the territorial pissings of grunge, power-pop, and good old “alternative music”.

Opener Personal Destiny barely sticks around for a minute, but starts the EP with a frenzy and (unsurprisingly) the lyrics “personal destiny”. It’s just a sonic entrée really, with Answer Machine following quickly on its heels and displaying the sort of late-70s nouse that may have seen Sherpa gigging alongside The Swingers if they weren’t too bloody young to make that possible. Pretty Cool Optical Illusions is centred around its most dynamic moment in the form of Batman Through A Telescope which melds hypnotic bass and chiming guitars with Earl Ho’s drifting vocals to fine effect.

It’s hard to avoid Mint Chicks comparisons with Sherpa in general, as their marriage of pure pop hooks and punk rings a few bells and they take similar approaches to the EP format, but in Cool Fool the songwriting comparison finds its most direct example before giving way to something much more mid-90s than the Mint Chicks would dabble in. Wrapping up with Lol Wut, Sherpa get to show off a more, dare I say it, gentle vibe and all of a sudden it’s time to hit play and listen through the EP again. With some hooks overt and others a little more elusive there’s a bunch of different things to reveal themselves over the course of a number of listens here.


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