- 26 Aug 22
Powerful effort from Australian indie maverick.
A huddle of banded stilts grace the cover of Flood – the shorebird, native to Australia, is a striking creature. But to hide from predators, it becomes anonymous when part of the flock. It is a telling image for a steely record that shimmers behind a delicate fabric.
Stella Donnelly created the album whilst roaming across Australia, writing on piano rather than electric guitar, resulting in an album that sounds immediate and instinctive. The video for the title-track is a hilarious pean to OK G0’s sublime, Grammy award-winning promo, ‘Here It Goes Again’, where they dance on eight treadmills in one continuous take.
‘Lungs’ is the flip side of Donnelly, told from dual perspectives. First, it takes the viewpoint of a child, whose family has just been evicted from an asbestos-sodden dwelling they called home. Then, it deftly switches to the POV of their callous, deluded landlord. A fantastic track, it illustrates Donnelly’s ability to inhabit disparate characters.
‘Underwater’ also explores the breakdown of a family home amid muddied and sinister happenstance. Criss-crossing characters, Donnelly crafts a song that articulates the perplexing torture of the situation: the way she repeats the line “Oh mama it’s getting worse” is excruciating.
The sweet, spoken word effort ‘How Was Your Day?’ documents how relationships are sometimes difficult to escape, for fear of causing hurt. The claustrophobia is all the more smothering for being hidden in a shiny happy arrangement. On ‘Medals’, she asks “Why is it so paralysing to see the one you love, dance?” It’s another high point on a highly impressive album.
Out now via Secretly Canadian.
Read more album reviews in the new issue of Hot Press, out now.