Crepes – Channel Four (2017 LP)

You certainly can’t criticise Crepes for not having a fully realised idea of their sound and how to deliver it, at least not where their debut album Channel Four is concerned. The accompanying press release uses adjectives like ‘jaunty’, ‘quaint’, ‘fanciful’, and ‘retro-edged’, and while these phrases are not far off the mark, there is a little bit more going on beneath the surface of these pleasantly mellow tunes that bares examination.

The album lumbers along with good humour and a certain laid-back, wistful haziness that covers the ‘90s-vibing jangle pop. The songs contained within are generally catchy, major-key songs built around melodic guitars and earnest lyrics, with a tinge of melancholy that helps to add extra weight.

In A Dream is a standout, its downbeat pop qualities bringing to mind The Go-Betweens, as does Mild Conversation, which features almost doo-wop backing vocals, a wiggly worm of a bass line, new wave synth sounds and a great melody. The blend of earnest optimism and self-aware humour coupled with a certain amount of sadness somehow manages to achieve a distinctive Australian feel, despite the obvious US and British influences.

One main complaint is that the vibe is so consistently laid back that it can all begin to feel a little sleepy, however there’s a lot to like about this Ballarat quintet’s debut long player.

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