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Down On the Farm

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Album Review

The album title and rustic needlepoint cover art completely misrepresent the Smallgoods' Down on the Farm. Not at all the twangy Americana roots rockers one might expect, the Smallgoods' musical gods are not Gram Parsons and the Band, but Brian Wilson, Runt-era Todd Rundgren, the Zombies, Split Enz and any number of other masters of smart, tuneful, lovelorn pop songs. A quintet from Melbourne, Australia with an encyclopedic knowledge of how to construct fresh pop hooks out of the same old materials, the Smallgoods are miniaturists at heart: even the most assertive songs here, like the jaunty, harmony-heavy opener "Sadness and the City," are too low-key and self-effacing to dramatically announce their presence in the grand power pop tradition. But far too many bands confuse softness and quietude with fey, wimpy and underwritten songs that barely coast by on how much they swipe from earlier, better tunes in the same style, and where the Smallgoods impress is in the richness and depth of songs like the wistful folk-rock of "Traipse Through the Valley." The inclusion of two seven-minute epics, "100 Red Buttons" and "Now I See the Stars," amidst the welcome concision of the rest of the album (two of Down on the Farm's best songs are under two minutes each) isn't evidence of bloat but testament that the Smallgoods understand one of the most difficult to grasp rules of pop music, that every song should be exactly as long as it needs to be.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

From Melbourne, Australia, the Small Goods play indie guitar pop with jangle pop, power pop, and mild psychedelic influences, stressing their three-part vocal harmonies. Their debut album, Listen...
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Down On the Farm, The Smallgoods
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