From Melbourne, The Stevens sound a whole lot like American band Pavement. I suppose they'd appreciate that comment. They also sound a lot like the best bands from New Zealand circa 1987. I think they'd understand that that was a compliment too. Their new record, the simply-titled Good, is out on Friday via Chapter Music. It is a fine record that should please fans of angular indie-pop.
The Stevens is guitarists Alex Macfarlane (Twerps, Tyrannamen) and Travis MacDonald, with bassist Gus Lord (Twerps, Boomgates, Tyrannamen), and drummer Matt Harkin. Their stuff, like marvelous lead track "Chancer", is simple and uncomplicated. It is also, however, bright pop that rides the sort of riffs that bands like Twin Peaks and Parquet Courts routinely crave here in the States. If "Cruiser" suggests Pavement by way of Columbus, Ohio's fine Connections, then the more laconic "Pulling All The Facts Together" chimes like an old Clean track, or a slower Superchunk number from the mid-Nineties. Elsewhere, the fine "My New Hideout" refines a sense of post-punk pop that bears worthy comparisons to recent numbers from EZTV, while the lilting "Keep Me Occupied" is poised somewhere between Luna and Talking Heads, a duel between long guitar-lines and jittery, nervous rhythms. The press material for this group mentioned that they opened for R. Stevie Moore and one can certainly hear the influence of that guy in something like "Good Co.", while the supple "Furnace Town" nods in the direction of Television and The Feelies with its sharp hooks. At their very best, like on the fuzzy closer "Thirsty Eye", The Stevens make all of this look and sound effortlessly easy, the Flying Nun-style tune-age rubbing up against NYC post-punk for a marvelous effect.
Certainly not the kind of album that is going to change the world, nor the sort of band that would dream of attempting that, The Stevens, instead, have decided that they were going to synthesize the high points of all your favorite records and crank out something simultaneously familiar and fresh. Good is 18 songs of sharp, and sharply-observed, indie-pop that charmed me instantly.
[Photo: Tahlia Palmer]