Whatever else there is to love about Carb On Carb‘s self-titled debut album, there’s something refreshing and uncomplicated about cramming 10 energetic indie pop tunes into a set lasting little more than 27 minutes. Like some kind of reverse-White Stripes’ chameleon, with a distinctly Kiwi twist in the tail, the Auckland-based duo of Nicole Gaffney (guitar/vocals) and James Stuteley (drums/vocals) have been making music as Carb On Carb since 2011.
After a couple of earlier EP releases and the hugely challenging experience of touring across Asia, this first full album was recorded and produced by James Goldsmith at Munki Studios and The Blue Room in Wellington, before being mastered in Chicago by Carl Saff. It’s maybe no coincidence then that the album is brimming with strong ’90s US college radio reference points. The music comes across as being a little chaotic and ramshackle in parts, and the album’s main themes veer towards the personal – with perennials like relationships, growing up, girl power, and life in Auckland, all appearing in metaphorical bold type across the lyric sheet. More generally, Carb On Carb somehow manage to merge an inherent sense of DIY fun with a slightly darker edge, and the duo’s wider indie aesthetic is never better realised than with Gaffney’s cover art, which complements everything they manage to achieve sonically. A short, sharp, thoroughly invigorating set of songs packaged up with big lashings of down-to-earth charm.