Pure power pop harmonies leavened by a self deprecating sense of humour encapsulates the many layered charms of Sydney’s The Nature Strip. Their new EP, Past Pacific maintains an impeccable standard they have set since forming in 2013 and over four previous releases (Stars Turn Inside Out, 2013, EP Plainclothes, 2014, Presents, 2016, and Beetle Bones, 2017).
First release off the new EP is a cover of the iconic Models song ‘Atlantic Romantic’. For the unaware, Models were a legendary Australian band who achieved a degree of international success and popularity once they added the late lamented James Freud with his inherent pop sensibility. However, those in the know appreciated the Models’ earlier more ragged and chaotic phase epitomised by the EP ‘Cut Lunch’ from which the song ‘Atlantic Romantic’ came from. Therefore to cover such a treasured piece of Australian musical history is, in the vein of “Yes Minister’, courageous.
The Nature Strip have nailed it. The song captures the slightly discordant tension between a driving, swinging frenetic rock n roll beat and unhinged, distanced vocals that manage to blend the bland, anodyne lyrics and the slightly threatening and altogether unhinged delivery. The keyboards that drive the song over the chugging guitars have a fairground quality that somehow manage to emphasise the tensions. Think of the terror behind the image of clowns. It is quite frankly a brilliant cover of a classic song that enhances the original with a great understanding of the inherent menace in the song, providing a great platform for an exemplary display of musicianship. It is a brilliant version that I found quite exhilarating:
[bandcamp width=700 height=721 album=4061205404 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 package=2365017936]
The rest of the EP dials down the mania in favour of beautiful crafted, intelligent pop. The opening track of the EP, “Push the Past Away”, starts with a very sparse eighties synth sound but kicks into a classic power pop blast infused by a dose of melancholy and regret. The Nature Strip’s command of their instruments is clear as are their impeccable harmonies. “Stores of Tomorrow” is more contemplative with mournful strings with hints of early Split Enz and bucketfuls of atmosphere. ‘Dirty Looks’ combines a witty lyricism with a chorus hook bigger than the span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Final song on the EP, “Georgia’s in Town” references the classic song “Georgia” through a melodic lift but adds The Nature Strip laconic delivery.
You can get pre-order the EP and get the single now through China Pig Records here. For those of you in Sydney, the band will be launching the EP at Django’s @ Camelot on Friday 5 October.
The Nature Strip are:
Jess Ciampa – drums, percussion, vocals
John Encarnacao – vocals, guitars, bass
Matt Langley – keyboards
Pete Marley – vocals, bass, guitars
Anthea Cottee – cello and backing vocals