Marveline is basically the solo work of Pete Marley – a stalwart of the Sydney music scene and go-to bass player for a number of seminal local acts including The Nature Strip (see our review of their last album) and Fallon Cush.
We are honored to prmiere Marveline’s debut album – amusingly titled ‘Savoury-Toothed Tiger’ – which is out on 14 May 2020, and it is an absolutely exhilarating album of pure pop delights. Completely self -produced and recorded in a home studio with Marley playing all of the instruments with the exception of drums (The Nature Strips’ Jess Ciampa contributes), ‘Savoury-Toothed Tiger’ is a fairly low-fi affair filled with melodic songs and the self-deprecatory lyrical tones associated with Marley’s previous projects.
Marley’s writing style and vocals could be described as a whimsical mix of XTC, The Beatles and Syd Barret. All with a dash of theatre and laconic Australian humour. And yet despite the sparkle, there is an identifiable rougher edge with a touch of grit.
Opening track ‘Gonna Get Myself a Demon’ is a prime example – raw guitars, Marley’s sardonic delivery and doo-wop backing. It’s exuberant and playful.
‘Turpentine’ is a stand out track – there are elements of fellow Australian bands You Am I or Died Pretty with its garage rock rumble of guitars. Marley has an ear for melody – anthemic and cinematic choruses that stick like super glue.
A darker streak is epitomised by ‘Brighter Lights of Despair’ which has a hallucinatory psychedelic tone, slightly off kilter. Of this track. Marley says:
(I was) trying to be Berlin-era Bowie musically. Angular guitar, a bit Krautrock-ish. I had the basic rhythm track from Garageband on an iPad. It appeared while I was in Bhutan in 2011, I had no instrument with me for a few weeks and the ipad was great for messing about.
The darker side is evident in the lyrics, inspired by a visit to the horrendous casino in Sydney:
The poison food is free, the poison drinks are free
There’s a clanking, whirring death-knell where my heartbeat used to be
The bright lights of despair, keep the prisoners in their chairs
Desperation in the air, the aroma of nightmares.
My fellow zombies ride, I think this one has died
The ashtrays may have gone but we’re all black inside
‘Another Perfect Day’ brings to the fore Marley’s excellent vocal rage and inherent pop sensibility with its trippy lyrics. This is accompanied by a whimsical self-produced video that is utterly charming:
This is followed by the joyful instrumental ‘(Theme for an Imaginary) Cop Show’ – a brilliant, unhinged and rumbling piece that illustrates Marley’s talent as a musician.
Marvelines’s pop strengths are again paraded in ‘Made of Stars’ – the kind of song that would fit in any of Teenage Fanclub ‘s albums – classic guitar pop.
The pop credentials also come to the fore in ‘How Green the Grass’, a dense wall of noise and harmonies.
The vocoded track ‘Something Sweet’ may not match the level of the other tracks on the album, but that may reflect my general antipathy to vocoders (perhaps only Kraftwerk could get away with this).
‘In the Garden’, however is a great redeemer – a darker-toned anthemic piece with a more serious theme and Beatles-esque tones and harmonies.
Overall ‘Savoury-Toothed Tiger’ is a pocketful of pure pop, with some sunshine and humour for the age of isolation and yet leavened by darker observations and the odd touch of melancholia. You will be able to download and stream the album through all the usual sites from Thursday or order through the link below: