Racing's debut album is a cracker. Filled with hints of 70s, 80s, rock, and synth pop... it’s not for the faint-hearted, but has something for anyone who is wanting to connect with the latest indie pop sound in New Zealand.
The Auckland four-piece band Racing consists of long-time collaborators Ed Knowles and Sven Pettersen (The Checks); Daniel Barrett (Sherpa) and Izaak Houston (Space Creatures), who bring a cocktail of sounds and licks that really are as diverse as a bag of liquorice all sorts. In other words it has something for everyone.
Their early album listening party at the Gin Room in Auckland provided a perfect stage to kick off what has been a real labour of love for this up-and-coming indie band. The enthusiastic attendees had a chance to mix and mingle with the band and, after a very short introduction, our ears where exposed to the first riffs of the album.
I was a big fan of The Checks when they first hit the scene with Hunting Whales in 2007. Their simple rock was fresh and had hints of 50s sneer, with Take Me There and Tired From Sleeping my faves off that album. Seeing them live was a treat at the Big Day Out and much of that magic is captured on this new album.
Kicking off with the stomper Motel Pool, with hints of Led Zeppelin thrown in, it takes you right down to a dirty alleyway and pulls a beat that comes from the pit of the stomach. You can’t help but want to pull out the air guitar for this one. It’s just a very cool track that somehow blends in a hint of synth pop at the end as a teaser to the next track Drugs and Affection.
This song drags me right back to the power pop of my 80s dance floor days and is seriously cool. It could have easily come off the Simple Minds album Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. The same driving bass that flows through Love Song and Trance In Motion works really well here and takes the album on a new course.
Electric Honey takes it up just another notch and octave. A slightly funkier riff drives this track rather nicely and I defy anyone to try to stop their foot tapping.
Devil's Work is a little more staccato by way of approach and requires another notch on the belt for anyone wanting to sing along. While minimalistic at the start, the beat and combination of traditional and more electronic sounds starts to flow over nicely and the vibe hits the highs of Jimmy Somerville from Bronski Beat.
Move Your Body starts off with a stripped-back Jack White kind of sound and accompanied a funky bass. It’s really not hard to see the influences they have drawn from, but the combination of the band’s musicianship and enjoyment still make it sound like their own and a wonderful lead guitar break, adding to the fuzzy feel, helps to keep the listener guessing.
This is where it’s worth a mention regarding the production of this album. Recorded mainly at Roundhead Studios, the Neve recording deck (made famous by the doco Sound City) really adds to the warmth and depth of the album. This is captured so well in Party Slow their latest single release. A nice guitar riff kicks things off which drives you down a not-so-well lit road, but still happy in the knowledge that you can wind down the windows and scream along to the chorus.
Misbehaving and Blue Gloom take us back to the dance floor again, followed by the slightly Depeche Mode-sounding Sweet Bedlam. It has echoes from DM's A Broken Frame with a more broodier feel to it. It’s a nice change to the album’s earlier tempo, with some wonderful harmonies along the way. Alcoves follows a similar vein.
We then get pulled back to the mosh pit with Run Wild. It starts off slow, but you know that it is going to build a momentum and I couldn’t help but find myself smiling and nodding my head to this one. It drops a gear in the middle and that takes it to another level.
Australia closes the album nicely and, while not so toe-tapping, it does give you a chance to collect your thoughts, sit down, relax, and chill out, perhaps on the beach, to reflect on a pretty damn good night.
So check this album out, you don’t need a Sherpa to take you on this journey and I’m sure even most Space Creatures will find this collection of tracks a worthy contribution to their music collection.
Grab tickets from Banished Music to watch Racing during their album release tour of New Zealand!
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Released: 09 Nov 2018