It must be something in the South Pacific water. How else can one explain the effortless melodic gift apparently bestowed on every musician who calls New Zealand home? Auckland’s Garageland carries on in the grand tradition of Crowded House, The Chills, The Clean, The Bats, Straitjacket Fits and a dozen other great New Zealand bands. And they do it in the patented Kiwi style: a backbeat, some loud guitars and one hopelessly addictive sing-along chorus after another.
Scorpio Righting, Garageland’s third album, is equal parts crunch and sweetness. More diverse than the group’s fine sophomore effort Do What You Want, Scorpio Righting borrows from many groups and sounds—the ’70s arena rock riffs of the Stones and the Who, the DIY alternative rock aesthetic that still permits a little rough-edgedness and from the melodic tutelage of the Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Crowded House. You’ll be humming these songs in your sleep.
The lyrics? Who cares? When music sounds this good, even sha-la-la sounds profound, and these guys do sha-la-la choruses better than anybody since Van Morrison. So we’ll forgive lead singer and songwriter Jeremy Eade for occasional clunkers like "I’ve been lost and found on a homeward bound." If you’re going to rhyme, you can’t get it right all the time. And we’ll forgive guitarist Dave Goodison for copping the classic riff from The Who’s "Baba O’Reilly" on "Crazy." If you’re going to do power chords, you might as well borrow from the master. The six-song live acoustic EP accompanying the album is a nice bonus, but the real highlights are in those power chords and those sing-along choruses. Scorpio Righting is a terrific little power pop album, 12 compact three-minute gems, fun from start to finish.