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Reviewed by Amanda Mills

Phil Judd: UniQue

Reviewed by Amanda Mills

Phil Judd: UniQue

As a co-writer of one of the most ubiquitous pop songs in local music history (Counting the Beat, in case you were wondering) Phil Judd needs no introduction. A long career with Split Enz, The Enemy (briefly), Suburban Reptiles, The Swingers, and Schnell Fenster has seen him dip into various genres, with intriguing results. ‘UniQue’ is his fifth solo album in a decade, and on first listen has all the hallmarks of his writing; melodies that twist in every direction, chord changes verging on Beatlesque, and that distinctive voice, which has changed with age but oddly stayed the same. Links to the sound of the early Enz abound, but none more so than the mandolin on Into The Zone, which melds nicely with original Split Enz-er Miles Golding’s violin. There are songs here that fit well with the classics in his songbook. Two Timer is a hook-filled, frothy pop number, boasting a typically idiosyncratic vocal, while Karmabomb features almost Baroque pop chord changes, and a melody that floats along easily. The moment when ‘UniQue’ becomes truly personal is Papa, Judd’s clear-eyed, but loving tribute for his father. The album isn’t perfect; it’s too long, occasionally veers into self-indulgence, and songs like Maa-Ya-Ha and Crème Brulee seem sonically disjointed from the rest of the material. Judd’s albums are often frustrating. The talent is undeniable, but for every gem there’s something equally abrasive. ‘UniQue’ is everything Judd has always been – impressively left-field, off-kilter melodically and rhythmically unpredictable. Maybe that’s the root of his musical genius.