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May 26, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Tom’s Lunch by The Phoenix Foundation [Review]

2.5 stars

This EP is surprising for two reasons. Firstly, no one expected The Phoenix Foundation to release new music so soon after Fandango (April 2013), especially since they have a tendency (like so many other New Zealand bands) to take years producing work.

Secondly, the music is happy. Like, summer-road-trip-all-you-need-is-love happy. Admittedly, the first time I heard Tom’s Lunch I felt underwhelmed, but then I realised that I didn’t want to drown myself in a swimming pool of organic low-fat yoghurt, as I usually want to when listening to this band.

Synthesisers and fast beats complement quirky lyrics, suggesting that the musicians are wanting to alter their usually dreary sound. The new vibrancy of the EP might also be partly attributed to their new drummer, Chris O’Connor. Particularly on the track ‘Fiscal Pickle’, O’Connor displays special affection towards his snare drum, giving the song a distinctive ‘80s vibe.

Even more exciting for the band (and for their music) is the fact that two of the tracks were produced by David Fridmann, most famous for his work with MGMT and Tame Impala. Fridmann’s love of vocal effects and reverb perfectly compliment The Phoenix Foundation ‘sound’, which already consisted of densely warped vocal lines.

So far, so good, right? Well, no.

Tom’s Lunch shows impressive versatility and experimentation from a group that is a bastion of contemporary New Zealand music. But within the global spectrum of experimental soft rock, this EP is disappointing. Essentially, it is a tamer, more cautious version of the niche currently occupied by Arcade Fire. While they might have a decent NZ hit with ‘Bob Lennon John Dylan’ (excellent title, I know), this selection of tracks will likely have little or no impact on the music world.

 

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