sun 26/05/2024

CD: Opossum - Electric Hawaii | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Opossum - Electric Hawaii

CD: Opossum - Electric Hawaii

New Zealand singer's new project wanders off in intriguing directions

Colourful alt-pop from down under

Kody Nielsen is possibly best known outside his native New Zealand as the producer of singer-songwriter Bic Runga, but since her star shines very much brighter at home than in Europe, that isn’t necessarily an especially high profile. He has also long been front man of The Mint Chicks, self-proclaimed “trouble gum art punks”, but now they’ve split up he returns with a new outfit, Opossum, and an even newer bag of tricks.

Opossum’s sound is rooted in surf music, but only in the loosest sense, borrowing keening harmony vocals and chord structures from the classic Californian sound. Around these Nielsen’s catchy songs have been lathered in fuzz, from the vocals to the organ. It lends a blurry, druggy vibe to proceedings, tinting everything with psychedelia of a most approachable variety (except, perhaps, in the closing “Inhaler Song” which blooms into a distorted God Speed You Black Emperor-ish affair at various points).

The opening “Girl”, for instance, takes the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” as it’s blueprint but turns it from mournful into something akin to the Beach Boys at their most upbeat, heard though a detuned radio. The Beach Boys also spring to mind in “Getaway Tonight” but there are many other flavours aboard, from the gentle brass backing (provided by Nielsen’s dad) on “Why Why” to the outright psychedelic rock of “Cola Elixir” - which bears a passing resemblance to recent Kasabian songs - while “Outer Space” settles for an almost ecclesiastical vibe, the ever-present Hammond organ going to church for the occasion.

Electric Hawaii is the magpie sound of a man picking through the history of pop and rock, getting stuck in the 1960s, but reaching forward from there, utlising technologies of the future to realise his vision. As such, it is an enjoyable listen.

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