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Reviewed by Lisa Tagaloa

The Electric Era: Sand Dunes and Bird Song

Reviewed by Lisa Tagaloa

The Electric Era: Sand Dunes and Bird Song

Proclaiming their music as ‘Antipodean anti-gloss pop’ this three-piece Auckland indie rock act is led by the multi-talented Karsten Schwardt, known to NZM readers as a senior SAE tutor. As well as lead guitar and vocals, Schwardt wrote all the music and lyrics, engineered and co-produced. His band fellows are drummer Anna Monteith and bass player Leal Butler. Former member Brignall Wood rejoined the band for some sessions and helped with production. Many of the dozen songs on this album were honed during a nine-date tour of Germany back in 2012, with recording taking place in various studios over the next two years. The first listen through belonged to the criticisms of my analytical brain – some of the guitar and bass effects were jarringly distracting, vocals needed more conviction and melodic variety, and sometimes the sounds felt mushed together. But the more I listened, the more I heard the beauty of certain tracks. Atmospheric breakdowns and harmonies of One Million Light Bulbs, the rhythmical urgency and clear cut grooves of Object (World Of My Own) and the descending chordal motif of Small World #6 kept my ears riveted, as did the variety of interesting section breaks and chord palette. The Electric Era seem to enjoy comparisons with the seminal likes of The Verlaines and The Clean, and this album is definitely worth exploring if you’re a fan of ’80s synths and unadorned vocal simplicity, cut to modern grooves, interspersed with crunchy guitar and bass.