Jack Frost (Aus)


aec.imt987344.2 10/17/06 New

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Review Text Putting key members of two of Australia's best bands together meant that a high level of expectation was already in place for Jack Frost's debut, but quite happily that expectation was met with flying colors. Quite wisely, neither Kilbey nor McLennan try to make their collaboration simply an extension of their respective bands -- while a certain familiarity is unavoidable, the two make a successful effort to try for something more. Part of this derives from the working set-up for the project; McLennan and Kilbey play just about everything themselves aside from some strings, woodwinds, and horns, with drum machines and synths adding a consciously technological edge to the proceedings at points. The tightly wound "Every Hour God Sends," for instance, touches on everything from Roxy Music at their most driving and sleek to anthemic '80s rock without the declamatory weight, while "Thought That I Was Over You" turns into a great lighter-waver while avoiding dumb-ass shoutalongs, a rare trick indeed! For the most part, though, Jack Frost is calmer, more relaxed, though there are moments of excellent drama ("Providence," with a slowly intensifying but never explosive build of instruments, drums sounding like martial calls over the hell, is a major winner). The two singers trade off parts throughout the songs, sometimes taking lead versus backing vocals, something breaking things down into verse and chorus responsibilities. There's even a bit of light French pop influence, as the gently jazzy "Geneva 4 a.m." shows, Kilbey's world-weary lead nicely offset by McLennan's soft but impassioned singing on the chorus. With plenty of lovely individual touches like McLennan's spoken-word delivery of "Trapeze Boy," a gentle bed of plucked strings and electric guitar supporting the brief, heartfelt story, Jack Frost as a whole makes for a worthy listen on its own merits instead of simply those of its creators' other work. ~ Ned Raggett

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