Rolling Stone album reviews, August 2010: Drawn From Bees, Itch-E & Scratch-E, PVT

My first album reviews for Rolling Stone, which appeared in the August 2010 issue.


Rolling Stone album review, August 2010: Drawn From BeesDrawn From Bees Four stars
Elementary Tales For Young Boys & Girls

Ambitious rock collection favours both quantity and quality

This limited release box set fulfils the rigorous, self-imposed work ethic outlined by Brisbane art rock quartet Drawn From Bees in 2008: to write, record and release new material every six months. Think of Elementary Tales as a long-exposure snapshot of an ambitious band-in-progress. Comprising 35 songs split between three EPs and a debut album, Fear Not The Footsteps Of The Departed, Drawn From Bees aren’t short on hooks, nor willingness to experiment. The nine tracks on second EP And The Blind Shall Lead The Way each hit high notes; lead cut “Long Tooth Setting Sun” contains one of the best examples of their favoured four-part harmonies. Very few of these songs feel undercooked; many sizzle with admirable clarity of vision. Their studious devotion to deadlines could be construed as over-earnestness, yet if anything, this career-so-far summary only underlines how serious Drawn From Bees are about their art. Taken in its entirety, this is a remarkable body of work.

Key Tracks: “Long Tooth Setting Sun”, “And the Blind Shall Lead the Way”


Rolling Stone album review, August 2010: Itch-E & Scratch-EItch-E & Scratch-E Two stars
Hooray For Everything!!!

Lukewarm third LP an itch better left unscratched

That this Sydney techno duo Itch-E & Scratch-E open their first release in a decade with a remix of the Scribe tune “F.R.E.S.H.” speaks directly to this album’s misguided nature. Considering their reputation as scene innovators in the early-1990s – remember the understated, ARIA Award-winning beauty of “Sweetness & Light”? – the Scribe joint seems the techno equivalent of waving a white flag. Elsewhere, NYC rapper MDNA lends his rapidfire potty mouth to “Other Planets” and The Scare’s Kiss Reid guests on “Electric”, yet these compare unfavourably to the album’s latter instrumental tracks. “Fishtank” and “Imperial Rockets” are the only true captivators here, but ultimately, these intergalactic sojourns can’t reconcile overall weakness. The uninspired cowbell/vocoder combination in album closer “Found It On The Dancefloor” serves only to still whatever slight momentum had been gained. More proof that just because you can reunite, doesn’t mean you should.

Key Tracks: “Fishtank”, “Imperial Rockets”, “Found It on the Dancefloor”


Rolling Stone album review, August 2010: PVT, 'Church With No Magic'PVT Three and a half stars
Church With No Magic

Electro rockers deliver much-anticipated third opus

The band formerly known as Pivot have added vocals to their blend of rock and electronica, yet what lies within Church With No Magic isn’t as immediately compelling as 2008’s O Soundtrack My Heart. Fans of the previous record will soak up the raucous, pitch-shifted dissonance of “Light Up Bright Fires” and the propulsive, choppy title track; hereafter, the hooks all but disappear. They’re replaced with an overbearing influence of woozy, amorphous electronica. On “Window”, from Laurence Pike’s clattering percussion to his brother Richard’s proudly-sung affirmation (“I won’t slip / I won’t fall / I won’t change”) and Dave Miller’s layered production, there’s a sense of cohesion that evades some of the latter tracks. PVT’s strongest material occurs when they meet rock and electronica halfway.

Key Tracks: “Light Up Bright Fires”, “Window”, “Church With No Magic”

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