A mainstay in the Australian underground/indie scene, having previously been part of, or at least worked with the likes of Early Woman, Treetops and Holiday Maker, Ben Montero is back under his Montero moniker with an album of attractive soft rock/psych. Called Performer, its the follow up to 2013’s The Loving Grace, and it’s been produced by fellow Australian and Pond/Tame Impala and he’s brought some of his sparkling Sunshine pop to bear on the record, which Montero lyrically largely uses as a method of self-help, tackling issues and even moods that affect him directly.
Opening track Montero Airlines sets the tone for the record, it’s dreamy, organ tinted sheen sitting somewhere between John Lennon, ELO, 10cc XTC and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with just a touch of the 70s Elton John theatrical. Aloha and Caught up in my own World just affirm what that opening track promised – that Montero has immersed himself almost fully in this slighty obscured vision of 70s pop/rock, and he can handle himself when it comes to writing a melody, and he’s packed Performer full of them.
At it’s best, such as Running Race, Vibrations and Tokin’ The Night Away, Performer is a great, wonky pop record, with Montero’s skewed view of the world matching his similarly skewed music, bulging with ideas and ambition. But that in itself is the records only gripe – he never really realises that ambition. That’s not to say its safe or samey – Quantify with its 80s synth-pop stylings should prove that, as should the slightly off kilter Destiny, it’s just that it feels a little contained, when it could have been let off the leash.
Still with songs like these, Montero is on the verge of something great.