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Reviewed by Jade Finkle

Davey Beige: Rise Above EP

Reviewed by Jade Finkle

Davey Beige: Rise Above EP

Davey Beige wastes no time on intros, launching right into the energetic, groovy electronic rock of opening track 80 In A 50km Zone, and it’s definitely a strong start.

On this four-track EP, the previously rather low key observational singer-songwriter (otherwise known as Dave Bishop) branches out into new and unfamiliar territory, enlisting the help of production legend Zed Brookes to change up his usual sound for a much louder, slicker combination of folk-rock and synth-pop. There are still hints of country here, in the swinging rhythms, the bluesy guitar solos, an American twang to the vocals, but this is in a whole different realm to the more traditional country/folk of his last offering, 2017’s album ‘Beginner’s Mind’.

80 In A 50km Zone is thickly layered with guitars, synths, modulated backing vocals and more, creating an experience similar to the wall of sound production style favoured in shoegaze. However, it is still unmistakably a pop song, with catchy vocal melodies, cheerful chord progressions and a standard radio pop structure. There are many things to enjoy here, and repeat listens reveal more and more intricate layers and surprises — something that can be said for the entire EP, in fact.

The next two songs bring the energy down, settling into a folkier mood on title track and lead single, Rise Above, and bringing in subtle synth-pop elements on Let It Go. Each carry heavy hints of Paul Kelly but prove the lesser tracks on the EP, certainly less innovative and attention grabbing than the opener. That said they’re well-produced, well-performed folk-rock, but the former could have been released by any country-rock artist of recent times, while the latter feels constrained in formula and performance.  

The highlight here is definitely the closer, The Clock Has Stopped, which cruises on a relaxed groove and slowly builds from a spacious, laid-back beginning to a triumphant instrumental climax featuring guitar solos, layers of sounds and even some strings. Beige’s more confident vocals really stand out here, and the prominent use of scraping electronic percussion in conjunction with the acoustic drum kit is an excellent addition. It feels a lot more ambitious and substantial, ending the EP on an excellent, climactic note.

Davey Beige says these songs are shaped by his recent passion for synths and drum machines, and this is a very highly-produced EP with rigid quantisation, heavy compression, auto-tuned vocals and overall sparkly cleanliness that might surprise fans of the more raw, vintage aesthetic of Davey Beige’s earlier material. For newcomers, this is a nice selection of catchy pop-rock songs, with fantastic guitar work and an electronic spin providing a dash of uniqueness.

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