Boom Crash Opera

Boom Crash Opera

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"There's a maniac behind the Wheel!" That's the first you'll hear of Dale Ryder on this impressive debut. Pete Maslen's drumming keeps pulse. A pensive guitar leads into the most brilliant of bridges and a lilting melody underpinned by Richard Pleasance's strong bassline. Like many Australian bands, Boom Crash Opera pursued the cream of production talent of the day. They were the last band to work with Alex Sadkin before his untimely demise in a Bahamas car accident. Just looking at the cover shot -- a stark tree against a grainy khaki/olive background, with only the top part of the bandmembers presented; a group of friends who make music out for a walk in the park? -- clearly this was no boy band. The dramatic mood created by the image is echoed in the music. For a commercial release, to begin their first record with a song about being run over is startling, to say the least. "Gap That Opened," like much of the record, has an English pastoral air about it. Boom Crash Opera seemed to take notes from Tears for Fears whilst honoring local heroes Icehouse and INXS, hence their delivery is definitively Australian. The second track is musically strong but weak in its lyrics: "If you are drowning/Hands up in the air!" It's a wonder it made the album, let alone became a single. That song's teeny naïveté lent itself more successfully to "City Flat." Writers Pleasance and Peter Farnan were classy "the streets meet at right angles" type guys, yet still endearingly young enough to cast off disposable charm in throwaway lyrics like, "Here we all are in the city flat/It's the bottom of the world and that's that!" "Her Charity," a classic Aussie anthem, remains one of their strongest. But there's little to shout about for the remainder. There are some nice touches, like the empowering bass on "Sleeping Time" and their debut single, "Great Wall," which seems so alluring that at first glance it is at best the emperor minus his clothes. Pleasance's chugging bass is again to the fore on "Bombshell," but it's perhaps the last two, along with "Gap" and "Charity," that are the purchase points here. "Caught Between Two Towns" is an acoustic break from the hip grooves and nifty hooks, although they still have a couple of those left for "Too Hot to Think," sounding off with a Boom Crash Opera trademark chant seemingly borrowed from the New Zealand Maoris, but it's an enthralling five-minute climax to a decent debut.

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