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Woolen Kits - Four Girls

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Artist: Woolen Kits

Album: Four Girls

Label: Trouble in Mind

Review date: May. 15, 2013

Shambling rockers Woolen Kits showed up in Melbourne a few years ago singing teenage songs in monotone and baritone. Not contemporarily teenage, of course, but that mythically simple ideal that was pinned down by Beat Happening and Jesus and Mary Chain and the like — hormones more than hotrods, lonely bedroom rather than sockhops. It’s been fertile ground for anyone trying to make songs out of those first swollen hearts and fits of spite.

There’s a balance required to sell those unbalanced feelings. Done right, nonchalant playing can make a song sound both knowing and irrepressibly sincere. Woolen Kits do pretty well with this sort of charm. They know how to talk their way though a rhythm, giving their speak-singing the illusion of a melody. Drummer Tom Ridgewell delivers his songs with a yip that contrasts with guitarist Tom Hardisty’s lower bellow. When they sing together, it doesn’t exactly harmonize so much as fill out the space.

The best track here, far and away, is “Susanna,” a string of awkward couplets that could have been plucked from Lou Reed, right down to the boomer-gen name of the girl. What makes it come so alive is the addition of an extra element — a sax that hangs along the bass line. With the squawk drifting through the air, it propels the tumble of the guitars past the jangle that’s typical of the other tracks. And that makes “Susanna” feel that much more important than the other three females cited during Four Girls.

“Sandra” fares second best — she warrants a mock-epic plod and a lot more reverb, like the bigger sound of their excellent early single “Maths.” The singers epic emotions for the girl deserve some mocking- he hasn’t even worked up the nerve to speak to her. But giving “Susanna” the extra attention makes you feel just a tiny bit sorry for the other tracks. Woolen Kits is a band that’s all sticks and wires, frayed as teenage nerves. Yet on the moments when they’re less exposed, they really heat up.

By Ben Donnelly

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