Bleak days, black nights, searching for solace in the sauce, sweating out a hangover, smoking your teeth yellow; I can hear that stuff in the chords. Curlew place a lot on your shoulders, but few bands reward you so much for your commitment.
Curlew is a band that has flown under my radar for some time. The name was always familiar but I couldn’t tell you what they sounded like. Well, I can now. They sound great. The band is a tentative two piece out of Brisbane, consisting of Mark Zian and Callum Wheeler. Mark is/was in Knee Chin, Callum is/was in skerreks.
Unbeknownst to many, Curlew have recently released Animal Urges, a primal and gripping album of sparse, brooding and literate twang. From the outset I was hypnotised by the way they manage to do so much with so little. The album is epic and meandering; the songs are lengthy but, wow, do they make good use of that time.
There are elements of many things here – the spite-filled, spittle riddled musings of Gareth Liddiard, the sparse paranoia of Slint, the dispirited nature of Nikko. To me, these elements have been mixed in a pot and boiled down to reduce.
The best words to describe this album are in the press release, featuring words from a friend of the band. He nails my sentiments exactly, it’s a wonder I don’t appropriate the entire thing.
“Listening, actually listening anyway should prompt thought and reflection; even if not, it’s a challenge to listen to the lyrics and not feel something. Sure, it won’t be the urge to dance, but it may instead be something more meaningful.”
To add a little bit to this, the lyrics are made all the more impactful thanks to the forlorn instrumentation. Bleak days, black nights, searching for solace in the sauce, sweating out a hangover, smoking your teeth yellow; I can hear that stuff in the chords.
By the end of this record I felt like I needed a drink. I felt like I had been wrung out and squeezed of happy feelings. You need music like that sometimes; you trade a sympathetic ear to the band in hopes that they something that connects with you. Curlew place a lot on your shoulders, but few bands reward you so much for your commitment.