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Album Review

The John Steel Singers hail from Australia, something of a hotbed for psych pop in the early 2010s, and their second album, Everything's a Thread, is one of the better things of that nature to come out of the continent yet. While the band's first album was relatively austerely produced by one of their early supporters, the Go-Betweens' Robert Forster, this one adds a level of sound and vision that is a giant leap forward. The songs still mostly have a strongly propulsive core, but that appealing core is surrounded by greater layers of synths, chiming guitars, and weird sounds that call to mind Super Furry Animals at their poppiest. And there is a ton of slam-dunk pop songs here, like the so sunny you'll need SPF 100 before spinning it "Happy Before" or the chirpy "Common Thread" or the hard-rocking, harmony-filled title track. Lots of songs that meander about peacefully ("There's a Bird," "The AC") or raise a little bit of noisy ruckus (the garage rock stomper "Never Read Tolstoy," the Sonic Youth-y "State of Unrest") too. Throughout the record, the bandmembers display an unerring skill at crafting arrangements, knowing just when to add the kitchen sink and when to strip everything back. They are adept at rocking hard enough to peel paint and laying back in the sun with eyes closed. They write songs that will stick in your mind and songs that can drift through lightly, making a gentle impression. Basically, the John Steel Singers are in total control of their sound at all times, and Everything's a Thread is the work of guys who know what pop music is all about but are still weird enough to want to mess around with it some. There's plenty of great psych pop coming out of Australia; it'd be a shame if the JSS got passed over in favor of some of their more hyped countrymen and women, because Everything's a Thread is as good as modern psych pop gets. [Full Time Hobby's reissue of the album comes with a bonus disc of material taken from a live recording that includes guest spots by Everett True and Robert Forster, on a rambunctious version of one of the group's early songs, "Strawberry Wine."]


Born: 2007 in Brisbane, Australia

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Australian indie pop group the John Steel Singers formed in 2007 in Brisbane. Naming themselves after a toy horse guitarist Tim Morrissey owned as a child, the group, which also consists of Scott Bromiley, Luke McDonald, Ross Chandler, and Pete Bernoth, released a self-titled EP in 2007 followed in 2008 by a mini LP called The Beagle and the Dove. A competent group of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, their sound mixes clever indie pop with elements of subtle psychedelia and a distinct Krautrock...
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Everything's a Thread - Single, The John Steel Singers
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