The Triffids

In the Pines

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Born Sandy Devotional earned the Triffids universal critical acclaim and increased the band's indie rock fan base across Europe, especially in Britain and Scandinavia. For the next album, the group returned to its native Australia and took a back-to-basics approach, recording In the Pines on an eight-track machine in a remote sheep-shearing shed for a grand total of 1,190 dollars (340 of which were spent on booze). As one might expect with a low-budget, lo-fi venture of this kind, the band makes do with whatever is at hand and, in places, that means such instrumentation as water tank, broom, metal percussion, and even floorboards. The stripped-down, communal feel of this record beautifully captures the essence of the Triffids' folk- and country-influenced rock and underscores frontman David McComb's musical and lyrical talent for translating the isolated mental and physical landscapes of western Australia. This can be heard on the group's sparse, slightly off-kilter numbers like "Just Might Fade Away" and the eerie "Kathy Knows," both of which boast a harsh, sinewy guitar twang reminiscent of the Birthday Party. Less dark but no less evocative are the title track, with its wistful mandolin melodies, and "One Soul Less on Your Fiery List," with its melancholy pedal steel guitar and piano. Nevertheless, there's also a playful tone in keeping with the spirit of the project, as "Evil" Graham Lee leads a community singalong on a cover of Bill Anderson's drinking song, "Once a Day." Ironically, the album's most magical moment -- the haunting "Born Sandy Devotional" -- is a sketch of a song that lasts little more than a minute and that was, sadly, never fleshed out elsewhere. In a deceptively simple fashion, In the Pines documents the breadth and depth of the Triffids' music and stands as one of the group's finest achievements.

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