James Reyne

The Whiff of Bedlam

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Fifteen years after forming Australian Crawl, James Reyne achieves what seems the natural culmination of all of his eclectic tendencies. An astonishingly mature album by any artist's rights, The Whiff of Bedlam delves into territory many would never even dare to approach, all the while remaining cloaked in some of the most gorgeous melodies Reyne has ever crafted. The opening "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?" sets the agenda - from a wispy electric piano intro, Reyne launches into an enigmatically vicious attack against someone who could even be himself(!), yet does so simply through the dynamics of his voice, avoiding the high-pitched intensity that earmarked his earlier works. From then on, there is not a clunker to be found - twelve achingly soulful confessionals (including a Steely Dan cover) through which Reyne seems constantly on the verge of tears he will never see. The devastating "It's Only Natural" moves from an organ intro through irresistable hook after hook, as Reyne seems to resign himself to his new discoveries as he has aged, only to immediately counter the downfall with the more upbeat melancholy of "Winds Of Change". Reyne concludes his tragic song-cycle with "God bids you goodnight/God's holding you tight...God's walking away/Got nothing to say/God's leaving the light on/Every day" and the halfhearted call to "Go have your day in the sun...boy". With the harrowing possibilities unleashed by The Whiff of Bedlam, it is certain to say that Reyne has found his own day in the sun... and it keeps getting gloriously darker.

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