Twerps : Twerps
There's something inherently likable about ragtag indie-pop collective Twerps. The guitar-driven four-piece are probably the most affable offspring from Melbourne's pseudo-incestuous music community, ambling along with a sporadic, not-entirely conventional recorded output along with relatively rare live appearances.Twerps marks their first proper full-length release, rising above the realm of hissy lo-fi into a more fully-realised appreciation of the Australian rock canon, as well as a dutiful nod to the greats of modern Americana.
Opening track and lead single Dreamin kicks off with what could easily be mistaken as a sardonic parody of the likes of Tom Petty, with the yearning of "Well I won't back down". Frontman Martin Frawley possesses the same fragile, wavering vocal style as Petty, if only a little more endearing. It's this dynamic which defines Twerps, resting uneasily in a sort of limbo between the fist-pumping histrionics of stadium rock, and the more contemplative understatement of Springsteen's Nebraska.
The tags of complacent and lethargic seem to have stuck to Twerps, but while these attributes do ring true on Twerps, there's also a distinct undercurrent of general uneasiness - continuing on from the grand tradition of great Australian suburban discourse (running the spectrum from Neighbours, Howard Arkley, The Go-Betweens and The Castle, to name but a few).
While the feverish global focus on New Zealand's fabled Flying Nun stable subsides, there's a tangible shift in focus back across the Tasman, with even Kiwis Cut Off Your Hands committing treason by citing acts such as The Triffids and Go-Betweens as the foremost influences on their latest release. It's a deserving appreciation which suits Twerps just fine, providing a resolute foothold up from their scrappy, LA garage-influenced early recordings.
It's an interesting chicken and egg scenario, with Twerps fulfilling a brief stint as backing band for Go-Betweens frontman Robert Forster - whether it came from a result of Twerps' reverence for The Go-Betweens' sound, or whether the band's newfound clean licks and chords resulted from the encounter.
It's not all squeaky-clean Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls-style guitar solos, with Jam Song burning along like a long-lost Velvet Underground jam - it's the only instance of Twerps sounding remotely unhinged
Bassist Rick Milovanovic's Boomgates bandmate Brendan Huntley (of Eddy Current fame. Can someone please plot a scattergraph of intertwining contemporary Melbourne band members?) stamps his softly sweet brand of romantic couplets on the record, co-writing the impossibly gentle and arrestingly heartfelt Bring Me Down.
While Twerps won't be elevated into the prestigious canon it so worships, it does bode as a stunning example of the capability of the contemporary Australian song.
Best Track: Who Are You
If You Like These, You'll Like This: 16 Lovers Lane THE GO-BETWEENS, Nebraska BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
In A Word: Statesmanlike