Saskwatch – Manual Override (2017 LP)

The evolution of Saskwatch has been interesting to observe – while they started out as a fairly straight-forward take on ‘60s soul they have readjusted their direction over the last few years, turning their hands to a brand of indie pop with a strong undercurrent of melancholy.

Manual Override continues this musical trend, and while it has generally more upbeat songs than on 2015’s Sorry I Let It Come Between Us, some of the moments that really stand out are the slower ones. North Terrace is achingly beautiful, arranged with simple layers of melodic guitar lines that bring to mind the xx, while Nkechie Anele’s vocal is devastatingly forlorn.

However the album does have plenty of groove – the fuzz bass and crunchy processed drum sound of Shrinking Violet lending a modern indie pop feel to proceedings, while the dreamy Then There’s You sounds closer to Liam McGorry’s other band, Dorsal Fins, than the soul act that released 2012’s Leave It All Behind.

There is still a certain amount of soul to be found in these simple but effective melodies, but the lean, classic pop structures suggest The Beatles as much as they do The Dap-Kings, while the production shows a certain amount of quirkiness and experimentation that manages to keep things feeling fresh and original. On album number four Saskwatch are clearly steering their ship in a direction of their own and remain all the more interesting for it. Manual Override is another strong entry from one of Australia’s great modern pop bands.

Originally published in Beat Magazine.

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