Opossum is a fresh new band on the New Zealand pop psych scene. Earlier this year they released their debut album Electric Hawaii. The band is fronted by Kody Neilson with Michael Logie (previous members of the now defunct Mint Chicks), along with Bic Runga. Just as I’m sure many of his audience feared Kody would not return to indulge our taste for his musical creation, I’m also sure that for everyone awaiting his next move, this album release was Christmas come early.
Kody has brought with him the experimental noise rock vibes of The Mint Chicks and combined them with some sunshine. The result is something on the same level as what his brother Rueben Neilson (also ex Mint Chicks) had produced with Unknown Mortal Orchestra in 2011. If you wanted to compare this situation with a ‘60s influence heard on this album, the Beach Boys juxtapose nicely. When Brian said goodbye to the tried and true rock and roll that had brought with it their mainstream success, and began to experiment with new sounds in psychedelia, the results were some fantastic pop music. We see the same thing with the release of Electric Hawaii.
The albums single Blue Meanies was released on July 2 of this year, with swirling keys and vocals that make for an enjoyably bright sample of what this album has to offer. Whilst many have many have coined this album as being an emulation of 1960’s psychedelic tunes, the ‘60s influences aren’t as strong as some would have you believe. While they are surely present, the bright upbeat instrumentation combined with the somewhat eerie vocal gives it a modern feel that is more reminiscent of BJM (title track Electric Hawaii) or The Black Angels (Cola Elixir).
Sure, the album does have moments that aren’t at quite the same level of “this is just lovely” as you experience when listening to the rest of it, but it is never boring, and none of it is filler. The track Fly for example doesn’t quite stand up to the rest, but occupies the space where Opossum shows that they can create consistent and quality tunes, keeping it mellow when they want to. On the flip side there is the closing track Inhaler Song that creeps up like a motherfucker (have a listen to understand) and leaves you with something not easily forgotten. It is clear that this album exists as more than just pop psych, with no lack in substance or content.
This really is one of the better albums to come out of New Zealand in recent years and if you haven’t heard it, you have something enjoyable ahead of you. I feel it’s worth noting that Kody continues his past of family collaboration with his dad contributing to this album. Kody has said in an interview that he likes playing with his dad, and listening to the album you get the feeling that Opossum was having a good time recording it. This is something that shows through in the music. With good vibes all round and an exciting hint at the future of the New Zealand psych scene Electric Hawaii is the best of pop psych summer jams.
OPOSSUM is touring throughout the US, Germany and the UK in October and November. Dates, along with the album Electric Hawaii is available on their bandcamp site; http://opossom.bandcamp.com/
Review made by Johnny Thomson / 2012
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