The Stevens : The Stevens
At this point, a Chapter release is pretty close to a sure thing: it’s gonna be endearingly sloppy, it’s gonna jangle (hard), and it’s probably gonna be pretty damn good. On their self-titled EP, Melbourne four-piece The Stevens do nothing to upset the trend.
Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter entirely. Given the limitations of dole-wave, Melbourne jangle or whatever else we’re calling it this week – the wilful amateurishness, the emotional detachment, the limited sonic palette – it’s tough to stand out when not even novelty is on your side.
The Stevens don’t seem like the sort of band to worry about this too much, though. Alex MacFarlane and Travis MacDonald get on with the serious business of laying out spindly guitar lines and frail harmonies. Bassist Gus Lord joins in with some melodic counterpoint, while drummer Matthew Harkin sticks to stoic timekeeping.
Lead track Alone does a pretty good job of summarising the wistful themes on show: “Every night I lie in bed, thinking about you lying in bed," opines one of the two frontmen (you can’t pick their soft, keening voices apart). MacDonald and MacFarlane are forever dreaming, wondering, considering. The fast cars described in, uh, Fast Cars are probably metaphorical, but it’s hard to tell, and in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter.
The stakes are low, and they’re treading in some seriously well-worn footsteps, but if The Stevens sound like your kind of thing, they are. The Stevens is good clean fun, and at a shade over 13 minutes, it can hardly be said to outstay its welcome.
BY EDWARD SHARP-PAUL
Best Track: Fast Cars
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: All Gone POP SINGLES, Odditties THE CLEAN
In A Word: Sprightly