Posted on Nov 9, 2000

Arguably Australia’s most underrated rock act makes their best album yet. But will anybody hear it?

There are many reasons (mostly relating to record company bungles) why Screamfeeder have never risen to the commercial cream of Australian alternative rock that has seen their contemporaries such as Spiderbait and Regurgitator become national heroes.

Yet not one of these reasons relates to their musical output. Like Kram and Janet from Spiderbait, Screamfeeder’s Tim Steward and Kellie Lloyd are lovers of the great pop hook foremost. Once they get that right, the perfect pop song tends to take care of itself. “Static” and “Dart” from their last longplayer, 1996’s Kitten Licks are perfect example of this, as are the two single “Hi Cs” and “Triple Hook”, that have played stop-gaps until the arrival of this new album.

Rocks On The Soul still has enough deft pop hooks to make a 10 million-selling Offspring album, but there is a sense of subtlety and orchestration that makes this collection more cohesive than the Brisbane trio’s previous albums. Opener “Stopless” features a characteristically melodic vocal from Lloyd, but it is the surging groove of Shwereb’s Built To Spill-esque guitar assault that gives the track a hypnotic flow.

Equally the new single “Above the Dove” might work loud/soft dynamics, but it is still underplayed with a soft touch that separates it from a million post-Pixies power-pop tunes. Much has been made of electronic outfit Pound System’s employment as producers on Rocks The Soul, but there really is no distinct stamp of their intense beat-driven attack here. Instead they simply enhance the sonic punch of each track and slightly simplify the textured Screamfeeder rock sound.

Sadly without the support of a major record company, Rocks On the Soul is unlikely to see Screamfeeder enjoy the success they have for so long deserved. Instead they will probably just have to take bittersweet comfort in the fact that they are continuing to make pop+rock records as good as any other three-piece in the country.

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