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September 22, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Superturtle – To the Rescue

It was such a wonderful and unexpected surprise when Superturtle’s debut album complete with vinyl 45 ‘Never Come Back/All My Friends’ single turned up in the Salient office, and it is an album which has put the most unusual spark in what has been – up till then – a pretty meh week.

Superturtle create music that sounds like it has just got laid, then maybe smoked a joint. It is sweet, gentle, and leisurely ease while simultaneously packing an absurd amount of quirkiness and melodic and rhythmic variety, as well being a little smug about it all. Which is cool, they deserve confidence: they’ve attempted to break loose of the typical ‘indie’ sound and travel in the direction that has suited them, fuelled by experience, influence, and musical talent. The result is an album that offers something new with every track – from fuzzy pop (‘The Whole Night Through’), to hard-focused post-punk (‘Cash that Cheque’), to deep moaning brass and adorable space-wobbles (‘All Our Friends’) – and an approach to music to has valued artistic integrity over ego and reputation.

Their charm stems from an aura much like the bright New Zealand suns of old. They are rediscovering music with a New Zealand flavour without resorting to dub/roots or blindly following international indie trends like zombies and calling it ‘local’. Bands such as The Mutton Birds, Bressa Creeting Cake, Split Enz and – dare I say it – Goodshirt all spring to mind: perhaps it’s the squawking seagull samples, the confused stumbling bass lines, vocals thick a dated kiwi accent (from when it still betrayed our British heritage) or the plain down-right originality. But more-so I think they all share a musical style that is earnest and innocent, flowing with youthful innovation. Yes, there is something to this stubborn Auckland sound that is just bloody wonderful!

Of course it should be no surprise that the single is such a wonderful mix of old and new: featuring on the record are Debbie Silvey from Garageland, Ricky McShane who (along with Silvey) is from Chainsaw Masochist, and Ben Furniss who (along with McShane) is from White Swan Black Swan, accompanied but the fucking Hot Grits horn section! The band began as Darren McShane’s (Chainsaw Masochist and BFM DJ) pet project and it grew to become the five-piece it is today.

However I will say that after listening to the single featuring All Our Friends and Never Came Back on the warm crackling fireside sound of vinyl, the CD does sound comparatively flat and chilly: another testament to the contemporary relevance of vinyl. Although Superturtle have attempted a masterful album of alt-pop I have to conclude that they haven’t quite pulled it off. Sometimes their simplicity consequentially leads to a lack of substance. For a debut, I think that is forgivable considering that To The Rescue is a solid foundation on which to build a good career.

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