Sleepy Jackson – Personality: One Was A Spider. One Was A Bird.

Sleepy JacksonLast week I was talking with one of my co-workers Tim, about Australian bands that are big in the UK. He was quite surprised that Aussie bands like Powderfinger, Grinspoon and Hilltop Hoods aren’t big in the UK. I had to tell him that their awareness in the UK is virtually zilch. One band I told him that were fairly big, in indie circles and magazines, is the Sleepy Jackson; essentially a one man band focused around eccentric singer/songwriter Luke Steele. This surprised Tim as the band are (rightly) seen as being a bit weird, but making some superb, symphonic pop. Steele has a bit of a reputation for firing plenty of band members (over 10 so far including his brother), and making some strange statements (like comparing listening to Prince to injecting oxygen instead of heroin. Eh?). But his previous album “Lovers” was an international hit and was voted album of the year in some publications.

Now in 2006, Luke Steele is back with some more Brian Wilson-esque tunes. Initially his high-pitched, almost elf-like voice takes a bit of getting used to, but a song like “You Needed More” is just sublime; just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, the harmonies come in with strings. “Devil Was In My Yard” sounds like a Phil Spector produced, 60’s power-pop gem, with another warm, sunny chorus. “God Lead Your Soul” has a real soulful vibe, “Understanding” is another example of the brilliant harmonies on this album. “Miles Away” is a comparitively gentle, acoustic lullaby.

“How Was I Supposed To Know” is the one song that sounds regretful, but still sounds like a shimmering pop gem. The whole album is beautifully produced (I’ve got to wonder what it would have sounded like if Steele had gone with producer Dave Friddman, who produced the best albums by the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev). “Personality: One Was A Spider. One Was A Bird.” is a lovely album that gave me this warm kind of feeling I’d not had since the last Polyphonic Spree album.

Sleepy Jackson – I Understand What You Want (But I Just Don’t Agree):

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