[sic] Magazine

Stephen Bailey – 9

Arriving from so far outside of the blue that it created its own colour spectrum, Stephen Bailey’s debut solo album, Silo, was a massive departure from the Aussie psych-head’s day job in Mt. Mountain. Hypnotic drones and pummelling riffs left way behind in the hinterlands of Perth, Silo was a much more accessible listen, its many melodies key-driven rather than by guitar. And it was full of real songs too, songs steeped in vintage rock, folk and that fertile indie/dream-pop cross-over so heavily mined recently. More of the same, I hear you cry? Well, luckily Bailey does just that on its economically titled follow-up 9, his songs now a little more refined perhaps, but so too not quite as striking as a result. It’s called give and take.

Back then there were enviable throwbacks to both Grandaddy and – remarkably – Brian Wilson. Now the beautiful palette has been rounded out to include Bradford Cox and his Deerhunter, nagging chorus repeats and swirling organ pulling you in quite hypnotically. Perfecting Cox’s singsong back-and-forth with the soft lyrics too, 9 is a truly calming listen. Its lazy-days melodies simmer alongside a spacey chatter as Bailey radiates wave after wave of fluffy psych-pop so charming that it’ll keep you warm through ‘til next Spring. True, it all gets a bit saccharine as we hit peak horizontal vibe, but highlights like the heavy footed “Hyde”, which brings to mind that recent Methyl Ethel record and “Country”, which in turn tackles the classy, breezy chill of latter-day Walkmen, reel your intrigue back in like watching a guy dressed entirely in black down at the beach. As such, it’s increasingly clear Bailey is a songwriter of some serious repute.

Best track: “Hyde”

~9 is released February 22nd 2019 via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Dusky Tracks.~