Australian duo’s main fault on album three is their over eagerness to please.
Tom Hocknell 2011-10-14
Named after their ongoing Sneaky Sundays club night in Sydney, Sneaky Sound System’s third album aims so clearly for commercial success that the plotting is evident. And success is something their record label, Modular, has become accustomed to, with Cut Copy, Chromeo and Robyn, amongst others, having found a home on the label and coming good on early promise.
From Here to Anywhere builds upon this duo’s (Black Angus, producer, and Connie Mitchell, vocals) first two albums, which attracted some famous fans. Some very famous fans – Mitchell recently appeared on the Watch the Throne album, by rap monoliths Kanye West and Jay-Z; she also featured prominently on West’s LP of 2007, Graduation.
This album was written and recorded on the road – not that you’d know it, as this is no New Adventures in Hi-Fi. The breathless opener, Friends, is built around a striking guitar hook, and is the sort of shimmering modern pop song finally giving The Saturdays a good name. And the quality continues with second single, Big, which answers the question: what would the Pet Shop Boys crossed with Boy Meets Girl’s Waiting for a Star to Fall sound like? The chorus of "This is the moment we’re waiting for / This could be big for me and you," while grammatically debateable, is inarguably massive (apt, given the track’s title). It will have shampoo advertisers reaching for phones and teenage girls for their hairbrushes, unashamedly 80s in feel. Elsewhere, the beefy Remember is the sort of tune that one could probably find playing so loudly in the gym that the terms and conditions of membership are misheard, and the unlucky listener spends the following 24 months on a punishing regime.
However, despite the tunes, it is hard to elicit much character from this collection. The pair might struggle to recognise their own Animals on a radio playlist, but Gary Numan might mistake it for one of his own. To suggest they cannot write an irritatingly catchy tune would be saying a bucket can’t hold water, but at times From Here to Anywhere plays like a greatest hits set from a band with only a single idea. They also struggle with boundaries, such as on the midnight stalker tendencies of I Need You So; and although 1984 demonstrates they have read George Orwell’s novel, you are left wishing they hadn’t.
While the entertaining lyrical insights – "I’d rather chase cars than talk to you" – and relentless optimism might be challenging to autumnal ears, overall this is a catchy pop collection whose main fault is an over eagerness to please.