There is a recognisable antipodean jingle jangle thrum in Sydney band End Scene‘s debut album ‘All My Ghosts’. Essentially, End Scene is James Jennings and Tom Dufficy and together they have produced an indie pop delight with instrumentation that chimes and rings, given a celestial reach by an acerbic and droll undercurrent in the vocals and lyrical themes. Sarafina Pea, from Sydney band Married Man, adds a golden lustre to a number of the tracks.
‘Bittersweet Spell’ opens the album with the hallmark features of a beautiful melody, sparkling instrumentation and intelligent, yearning lyrics, this is a classic inner city Sydney sound – what I’ve labelled the Marrickville Sound – with anthemic bounce and an ethereal aura.
The lyrics reveal a charming fatalism and romanticism in a dry laconic delivery that instantly recalls The Go-Betweens and more recently bands like The Aerial Maps and bands on the the Broken Stone Records/Remote Control Records label.
Least the stars get a little closer
When you speed into the night
Takes nothing to fall
Takes everything to fight
Drove dead into a wall
One too many times
Lucky to be alive and I’m
Never falling into line
The accompanying video is a charming series of scenes in the sunlit, bucolic bush interspersed with performance pieces and a surreal psychedelic element thrown in too:
‘Still Alive’ sparkles and jangles along the same musical motorway – a steady and reflective drive filled with life and verve.
‘Low Ebb’ swerves into a punkier more muscular direction in less than two minutes as it covers the vicissitudes of life with an acerbic half spoken delivery with spicy language filled with anger and frustration. ‘Another Life’ sparkles with a reflective sheen and dollops of melancholia with a thunderous rhythm section that is cinematic and bold like some James Bond theme.
‘Keep The Lid On’ has a gravelling, whispered crunch to the vocals while the guitars continue to carve out crystal swathes in the atmosphere, with haunting backing vocals from Pea adding a glitter. There is much to be recognised and acknowledged from the Dunedin sound – The Chills and The Bats in particular – but with a distinctive and menacing undertow. ‘Today’s Waves’ with its brooding bass and slow delivered layered vocals prowls with intensity under a acoustic shimmer and sustained fuzzy guitars.
A vintage string sound forms the spine of ‘There Is A Light’ with understated vocals, haunting and atmospheric and far in the distance. Again Pea’s vocals adds a counterpoint – a dissonant air. ‘Full Cycle’ is a hypnotic track which leads into the sombre ‘What My Dead Friend Said To Me’ with its funeral vocals, sparse acoustic framework and The Jesus and Mary Chain/Velvet Underground jangle.
The End Scene’s capacity for indelible melodies form the inherent strength in this album: ‘Axe To The Hive’ is a prime example – celestial sparkling guitars carry the arching melodies beautifully with the delicate harmonies skating across the fuzz. ‘The End’ in contrast enters dream pop territory with a touch of psychedelia with a hypnotic flow in the vocals and synths and other splashing instruments.
‘End Of The Storm’ ends the album with its classical jangle pop reflective pace and gently tinkling piano carving out a path in the ether. The quiet vocals exude a melancholia, the production is cinematic and statuesque: this is achingly beautiful and reaches tentatively into Undergound Lovers territory with its dream pop shoegaze radiance.
‘All My Ghosts’ is a remarkable collection of shining jewels: twelve perfect pop songs bathed in a brilliant jangle of guitars, piano and billowing synths, not afraid to explore genres but always true to the strength of the melody. It is available through the link below and through all the usual download and streaming sites here.