Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fallon Cush, Bee in Your Bonnet, 2016

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

There’s a song about halfway through the new Fallon Cush album that’s so beautiful (and sad) that even on first listen you wonder why it’s not already a standard (it‘s certainly played like one). The song, “For Too Long,” seems to be about a relationship that’s ended or about to end: “Too long I’ve been crushed by your good-byes / For so long now I’ve been trying to find life in dead eyes.“ It’s one of the many highlights from this band’s latest release.

Bee In Your Bonnet is the third album by Australia’s Fallon Cush and the first in four years. The band is led by singer and songwriter Steve Smith who’s based in Sydney and has been part of that city’s music scene for 30 years. Earlier albums by Fallon Cush were compared to the sound of Crowded House, and it’s difficult to come from that part of the world and not be influenced by Neil Finn and company.

But the band’s current lineup of Smith on vocals and guitar, Glen Hannahon on guitars, Scott Aplin on keyboards, Josh Schuberth on bass and drums, and backing vocalists Suzy Goodwin and Stephanie Grace have a sound that‘s all their own. To get a glimpse of the marvelous sound they’re now making, check out the YouTube video for the album’s title song as the band visits Sydney’s Love Hz studio for an acoustic session.

In addition to “For Too Long,” other album highlights include the single “Useless Friend” about another relationship that’s on the rocks. “Would it take a photograph / jog a memory or two?” the singer asks a former close mate. And he knows the end is near: “I’m too far gone / I’m a hopeless case / I cramp your style / invade your space / I hang around / like a useless friend.” There’s also some great bass playing going on.

After a quiet start, the album’s opener “There’s A Dark Side To That Moon” kicks it in. “Kings Ransom” also rocks and includes a very late-period Beatles George Harrison-style guitar throughout the number. There’s also some swell guitar and organ coupling happening in “Less You’re Near” and the terrific “Dorothy." (Shades of mid ‘60s Dylan -- there’s a Dylan-with-an-Aussie-accent in Smith’s singing.)

“The Haunting” is lovely. “The Honeycomb” has the makings of a heavenly pop hit, and the wonderful “Biggest Show” ends the album with another ending: “When the flame went out / I wasn’t there / When she burnt out like a flare / It was meant to be you’d swear.” And then there’s a brief, brilliant guitar solo that brings to mind the end of Abbey Road or XTC’s Nonesuch.

Despite the songs that describe the ending of relationships, Fallon Cush’s Bee In Your Bonnet is very much a new beginning for this stellar band.

Bee In Your Bonnet is available now on Lightly Toasted Records.

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