There is a bright ray of sunshine searing through all the tracks in Salarymen‘s incandescent debut ‘Scene Change’, even when at their most melancholic. There is an indelible sixties flavour: a sort of indie folk thread with suede jackets, knee high boots, mini skirts and fringes: a bright lollipop bounce that blasts forward at full tilt with bittersweet vocals and harmonies. The EP is out through the legendary producer/engineer Wayne Connolly’s label Scenic Drive. Connolly has produced a coterie of exemplary local bands including The Vines, You Am I, Underground Lovers, Died Pretty, Boy and Bear, Cloud Control, the late Go-Betweens co-founder Grant McLennan and many more.
If ever there was a panacea for the previous year’s sullen darkness, ‘Scenic Change’ is it. The bubblegum pop has a naive innocence and joie de vivre: organic instrumentation and a poppy bounce with a Ronettes doo-wop stylishness.
Thom Eagleton, co-vocalist and guitarist says of the EP:
This body of work represents a more lo-fi side to Salarymen. Each track has a distinctly different mood and style, and we’re really proud of it as a whole package. It was recorded and produced entirely at home during a global pandemic, and some of the angst is definitely embedded into the lyrics and production style. Let’s just say that being unemployed during a pandemic gives you a lot of time to perfect the mix!
Opening track, ‘Fine’ has a slamming percussive beat and indelible riffs and gorgeous harmonies with a Sonny and Cher brilliance. Eagleton says of the track:
Fine is about feeling outside the norm in more ways than just one, but most importantly it’s about relishing in that fact and coming to embrace it. Growing up, being mixed-race in the Sutherland Shire and wearing skinny jeans wasn’t a great combo haha. Moving into adulthood, I’ve been frowned upon for choosing a career path in the arts, among other life choices, but I don’t hold a grudge about anything. Fine is about not seeking out validation that may never come, and leaving others to come to the realisation in their own time
The accompanying video is brim full of joie de vivre: directed by Todd Stephen Logan and featuring models Gala Nikolic, Alvi Chung and Olivia Brown:
We reviewed second track ‘Runaway’ last year. ‘Runaway is infused with a dappled sunlight aura and recalling the kind of hedonistic joie de vivre epitomised by the swinging sixties in the form of Serge Gainsbourg and his muse Jane Birkin with its vocal interplays. It tilts along in a delicious canter – bright, melodic and effervescent.
And yet, antithetically, there is an air of wistful melancholia that simmers beneath the surface – regret, nostalgia and a sense that everything is ephemeral and transient, perhaps.
The result is something quite delightful – intelligent, melodic indie pop that sparkles – a sentiment perfectly caught by the nostalgia-tinged video directed and edited by Todd Stephen Logan:
In our chat last year with singer Renee de la Motte, she said of the track:
We have had the bones of the song for a couple of years, but the lyrics were written very recently and were finalised during COVID lockdowns, when we were stuck in the same place all day every day. The desire to just get out there and travel has always been strong for us, but when we realised we probably weren’t going anywhere for a couple of years, it was truly gutting – so in came Runaway, which is an expression of the sense of escapism and wanderlust we are all feeling at the moment.
‘Unlucky’ has a jangling upbeat movement with tremolo-tinged guitars, swinging Hammond keys and De la Motte’s sweet pop melodies: there is a burnished vintage sheen to the track. ‘Something to Me’, sung by Eagleton enters with a muscular drive with a haunting melody filled with melancholy. Anthemic and bold, this is heady stuff.
The sixties/Motown vibe continues with final track ‘Please’.
This is an absolutely delightful EP: sparkling bright with a sense of fun and mischief. There is an unapologetic debt to the swinging sixties with the bright bounce and naivety, but it is delivered into modernity with a knowing smile.
‘Scene Change’ can be streamed here and Salarymen will be launching the EP with a series of headlining gigs:
Friday, 11 June | Factory Theatre, Marrickville w/ Charlie Gradon – TICKETS
Friday,9 July | Marly Bar, Newtown w/ The Brights
Sunday, 15 August | North Gong Hotel, Wollongong w/ Body Type