The enigmatic five-piece band from Shepparton hit pay dirt with their last album, Moo, You Bloody Choir, achieving airplay on radio stations they never would have thought possible before, and widespread recognition and acclaim. It must have been a fairly daunting task fronting up to deliver this fourth long play effort, Watch Me Disappear, which hit stores last week. Fans of their previous album with its breakthrough single One Crowded Hour will no doubt be looking for something of a continuation of Augie’s wordy folk rock vitality. Long time fans of the band will probably be wondering if the time has come for Augie March to sell out and go all pop rock on them. My initial feeling is that it is the latter group of fans who will be most satisfied by this album.
The album opens with its two most accessible (and possibly most winning?) tracks, the cool and aloof Watch Me Disappear, which was released as a preview track over a month ago, and Pennywhistle, the first official single from the album. Pennywhistle is quite simply a great deal of well-crafted fun, replete with the obligatory whistling and a jauntiness reminiscent of Heartbeat and Sails. These two tracks are followed by another track with quite a bit of a hook, the somewhat eerie Becoming Bryn:
And if you see me rising up through the floor
with unblinking eyes
Run run run run run
From there on in, at least for me, the album gets caught up in a bit of mid-tempo sameness. City of Rescue is a short folksy burst that doesn’t seem to quite fit in with the rest of the album, and Farmer’s Son is an all too smooth identikit single. The fairly gripping subject matter (reportedly inspired by recent muggings / attacks on a couple of band members) in Mugged by the Mob probably saves the track, a mid-tempo slowburner infused with horns and backed with some elegant keyboards:
You see them walk the streets in packs
Like so many chimpanzees,
Those mental amputees,
No culture only liberties.
The Slant is a sleepy nursery rhyme of a song, and is followed by The Glenorchy Bunyip, a colonial stomper that many people have already compared to This Train Will Be Taking No Passengers. Like that track, this one that will no doubt only reveal its true value when played live, with the band given the opportunity to boil over and really shine. Dogsday takes the listener back to easy listening territory, before the circuitous melody of Lupus gets the band rocking out gently again, another of the album’s highlights. The album draws to a close with some more eccentricity, the charming keyboard-driven pomp of The Devil In Me, infused with strings and backed with a choir including the likes of Dan Luscombe and Dan Kelly.
Although you will want to hear this album again once you have finished listening to it the first time, I honestly don’t believe this album fits together as well or has as many golden musical moments as the band’s previous album. In short, I am a little disappointed with Watch Me Disappear. Perhaps the album’s charms will reveal themselves more with time, but for now, at least, this album feels a bit suffocated by its own moderation for me.