Oh Mercy : Deep Heat
Success. It’s the reason why most musicians are in the music industry to begin with. What someone defines as success however varies depending on who you ask. It could be having a loyal fan base who go to all of your shows, having enough money to pay the rent or being a celebrity and trashing hotel rooms. While not indulging in typical rock star antics the Melbourne five-some (having recently added Annabel Grigg on keys) has been experiencing a considerable wave of popularity and critical acclaim in the time since releasing Great Barrier Grief last year. Whether it was the vulnerability of vocalist Alexander Dow, the warm production or a combination of both things, something seemed to click for many listeners.
With expectations the highest they have been in their relatively brief career so far they release Deep Heat. The inclination for some, particularly bands trying to establish themselves, would be to stick closely to the sound that brought on the attention to begin with. Deep Heat on the other hand finds Oh Mercy expanding on what they started with Great Barrier Grief. The intimacy is still there yet their overall sound is tighter and the neurotic tendencies on the lyrical side are more reigned in. Gow has said that he wanted the album to be sexy and that he wanted to explore grooves more, which is evident. This attitude even extends to the album art, with its Mardi Gras style photo including a near to bare-breasted woman.
Upon first hitting play the opening title track sounds like business as usual before the seductive rhythm intensifies, including yes – a flute solo. The said solo is performed by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos and features the opening lyric “She was always the better man / She had a magnetic majesty.” Rather mysterious and non-specific, it marks a change from the personal tone of Gow’s past work. After Deep Heat you get thrown right into Rebel Beats, an equally sexy rock anthem with more than a hint of Roxy Music and late '70s influences. The seducto-meter gets turned up even more on ensuing tracks like Fever. This dance-ready rock sound is guided by the experienced hand of Gerling’s Burke Reid who was recruited by the band to oversee production. His influence clearly helped them find their inner groove as the album moves along at a breakneck speed. Among the sweaty grooves Gow is given the chance to explore his poetic leanings while steering clear of his personal life. The closing moments of the catchy My Man features a voice asking Gow if the song is driven by real life inspiration to which Gow nonchalantly replies “nah.”
Meanwhile lead single Drums talks about love in an optimistic yet cautious way while the overall party vibe is bolstered by some funky horns. This makes for a change compared to a couple of tracks earlier where he talks about being stifled by love on a track appropriately titled Suffocated. By the time closer Labour Of Love slides in you know you’ve been through an experience and heard a band evolve before your very ears.
BY ANDREW 'HAZARD' HICKEY
Best Track: Suffocated
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Country Life ROXY MUSIC, Angles THE STROKES
In A Word: Seductive