On their 1992 debut, this New Zealand rock group was the vehicle for the extraordinary songwriting skills of Don McGlashan, a mainstay of the New Zealand pop scene who was as ubiquitous with artsy post-punk as Chris Knox in his homeland during the '80s. With this group he went for a total "Kiwiana" aesthetic with a strikingly topical lyric-writing approach that set them apart from the often-oblique sound of anti-podean avant rock. A good comparison for this album would be with the work of Australian songsmiths the Go-Betweens and Paul Kelly, who mine similar oblique themes of daily life and transform them into eloquent, poetic pop music. The quartet went mainstream in New Zealand and Australia with a unique sound which falls somewhere between the crafty, FM-friendly songwriting of Neil Finn and Dave Dobbyn and the edgy alternative guitar rock sound of the Clean, Chills, and Verlaines. "Dominion Road," "A Thing Well Made," and "She's Like a City" exhibit McGlashan at his best and the uncanny appropriation of the '60s psychedelic hit "Nature" is a standout track with a catchy refrain originally recorded by New Zealand pop godfathers the Fourmyula. The Mutton Birds' album was recorded in a low-tech 16-track studio and in a practice room by the band, giving it a unique lo-fi ambience that characterized the sound of New Zealand rock and comes highly recommended to fans of the Flying Nun scene.
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AllMusic Review by Dean McFarlane