The Close Readers / Group Hug



Next to Avalanche City, this must be this year’s best little indi release. A mix of familiar, yet angular tunes, hints of a country twang and a heavy peppering of strummy, jangly Nun styled ‘80s guitar. This album feels closer to an obsession than a night project for main man Damian Wilkins. Wilkins is pretty elusive online about his reasons for this material but it still touches nerves raw and sweet. He writes with mixed emotions on “Iris Dement”, which I’m guessing is about his lil’ girl moving into her own bed (although it reads like a secret evil that we do not speak of). The crimes of a former psychiatric hospital (Lake Alice) provide a surprisingly upbeat critique, confirming what we all suspected: that Janet Frame was tortured on site and there really is no lake at this location. The ghosts of Neil Young and Sneaky feelings compete for aural real estate in many of these tunes. And more so in Elton John, a good slap in the face of cover bands with little creativity choice in their repertoire. With issues as varied as sneaking girlfriends into bedrooms to bipolarism and stage diving Wilkins knows how to make you sit up and take notice, and listen again, and again, and again.

Published in NZ Musician – July 2011

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