Geoffrey O’Connor, who played in iconic Melbourne pop band Crayon Fields, has just released a magnificent solo album, ‘For As Long As I Remember’, and it is a shining beacon of sparkling, intelligent pop that provide aural succour during these dark times. Every song features duets with iconic singers which adds textures and layers that are brilliant and powerful.
There is an overall gentleness to this dream pop delight: it is an album filled with a romanticism and optimism that has a sixties pop sparkle and an instrumental inventiveness that is refreshing and strangely comforting. There is nothing abrasive or sharp-edged but rather a golden thread of melancholy and reflectiveness that is poignant and poised.
Opening title track and first single off the album is a case in point.
Flutes never sounded so good as the arpeggiated riff that sinuously winds its way through the reflective and delicate track. Featuring the dulcet vocals of Jonnine from the band HTRK as a duet, this is an atmospheric and catchy synth pop tune that exudes an air of a lazy summer afternoon on the sunlight, with its themes of nostalgia and love.
The accompanying video, directed by Kate Meakin, is a beautiful shot of series of vignettes and performance pieces that seem etched out of dreams. Jonnine says of the video:
Like some high film students who broke into school on a Saturday night to use all the props. With cans of atmos spray, fans and romantic fabrics, had anyone ever combined the camp glam of Kenneth Anger films and Darren Star’s Younger?
It’s a total luxury and so much fun working with two brilliant artists who have so many excellent ideas. Jonnine’s vocal delivery is such a unique balance of cool detachment, warmth and conviction. Kate’s BTS style video is a perfect fit and perfectly executed. I love wearing sunglasses indoors and I could wander aimlessly around that classroom having fabrics launched at me from an industrial strength fan forever. If it’s all downhill from here and I can totally deal with that because I’ve had enough fun.
The result is something shimmering and liquid that fits perfectly with the languid, lush air of the track.
‘Foolish Enough’ features Sydney artist Laura Jean is a smooth string laden reverie with a touch of self-referential humour – another time we spent your father’s money, it was a victimless crime – and a The Mamas and The Papas or Mike Sammes Singers smooth pop style. It is thick, deep and lush: a curtain of instruments and a sparkle with a deep thick guitar solo. Flared velvet trousers, beehive hair dos and a Roger Moore sinuous shimmer. It’s gorgeous.
Another single featured from the album, What A Scene’, features Melbourne artist Sui Zhen stepping up to provide the most velvety vocals in another sparkling duet.
‘What A Scene’ glides with a shimmering aura: a sixties cocktail bar sparkle with a haunting and melodic refrain. The vocal interplay is cool and louche, restrained, almost whispered and yet infused with feeling and a sense of timelessness. There is an air of enigma and mystery – the opening synth wash that morphs into a driving rhythm and a lilting, tripping piano riff. The lyrics are haunting – what a scene, the naked dead actors on your laptop screen, what a scene.
O’Connor wrote and directed the equally enigmatic video: suffused in a late afternoon sunshine glow and filled with mystery as O’Connor and Zhen play DJs in a moody studio singing feeling love as strange signs are sent out to the universe. O’Connor says of the collaboration, the track and the video:
Becky [Sui Zhen] has been one of my favourite artists of all time for a long time and I’m so happy we could sing this duet together. I’ve spent a lot of my life falling in and out of sleep to the sound of late night radio hosts talking about things I don’t understand. The video concept is inspired by this and the dream of hosting my own radio show, which seems impossible with my current sleeping pattern and personality.
There’s a Lynchian mystique that is faintly unsettling but ultimately mesmerising.
Sienna Thornton from Melbourne band Cyanide Thornton shares microphone duties in the funky ‘Renee’ that has all the hallmarks of something from Nancy Sinatra or Sonny and Cher: smooth and full of swagger and attitude.
Another icon, New Zealand’s Sarah Mary Chadwick is drafted in for two slow burning tracks: ‘Strange Feeling’ and ‘Precious Memories’. The former is an ethereal and haunting, slower paced track with an anthemic enigmatic chorus that is powerful and magnificent – I’ve got a strange feeling I’ve got it all. ‘Precious Memories’ moves away from the wall of noise for a torch song melody with simple acoustic guitars and a sense of vulnerable, naked and exposed emotions and the haunting flute breathing an ominous air.
The pace picks up again with ‘Catwalk’ featuring musician Caitlyn Lesuik : an insistent bubbling rhythm with rolling strings and a chuckling guitar and more flute: this time funky and hyperactive.
‘Tired of Winning’ features Melbourne singer June Jones and O’Connor’s melancholic vocals with the tongue-in-cheek cynical lyrics – everybody gets a prize. The song is a sweeping expansive track: there is a fin de siècle air, something Brechtian, theatrical and posed.
The sonar blips that introduce ‘Shelley Duvall’ form a subtle background percussion to the sweeping strings and synths about someone who looks and walk like the iconic actress. Nicole Thibault from Thibault provides vocal assistance in something that invokes Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg with its Gallic tones and stylish presence. There is a pulse quickening edge to this slow burning fuse of a song: perfectly formed melodies and an enigmatic presence.
‘Tunnel of Love’ with Jess Ribeiro is another sixties-infused anthem: soft, reflective and statuesque. The dual vocals are gorgeous: adding a celestial layer.
The album ends with ‘Love Is Your Best friend’, featuring Stephanie Crase from Summer Flake: a measured and enigmatic track with arpeggiated strings and a plucking guitars.
‘For As Long As I Can Remember’ is a masterful album. It has a sepia-touched aura of another era – a sixties sparkle and lustre with a Clavichord spine. It has a style and grace that is imbued with an air of jaded sophistication and ennuie emanating from the golden thread of melancholia that sweeps across the album. The duets add tone and colour: a refreshing duality that adds texture and vitality. Geoffrey O’Connor has proven himself more than able to combine a brilliant songwriting craft with innovation and creativity to produce something that, while born out of stylish influences, is unique and enchanting.
Saturday October 2
Melbourne – Northcote Social Club
Geoffrey O’Connor album launch