James Reyne

Speedboats for Breakfast

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After a five-year absence, James Reyne returned with a grungier, heavier sound. Gone was the lightness of Design for Living, and in its place was a lyrical and melodic maze that sounded unlike anything Reyne had ever done before. The single "The Rainbow's Dead End" is a perfect example: "Hotel, motel drifters one and all/Lie like dead men down in rows/Against the Bondi Beach sea wall/The mirror smeared with wasted chance/And nicotine-stained romance/This must be the rainbow's dead end." Working with collaborator Scott Kingman, Reyne concocted a terrifying album that includes tracks with titles like "Nail," "Hangman's Wages," and "Pusherman." It all culminates in the album's final track, a remake of Olivia Newton-John's "Have You Ever Been Mellow?" (called simply "Mellow") that does an almost punk run-through of the original. Since Newton-John appeared on Reyne's debut solo album, one can only read this as a brave move in a hard new direction. As Reyne put it himself in "Lustre," "There's a tyranny of distance/Between you and I." From the half-submerged clown's head on the album's original cover to the dense lyrics and production within, Reyne made the most frightening album of his career. At least he proved he could still push the envelope with the best of them.

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