[sic] Magazine

Swazi Gold – Jehovah’s Whispers

Swazi Gold – ‘Jehovah’s Whispers’ (Research Records)
Review By Paul Lockett

It’s not every day that we receive records from Australia here at [sic] Magazine – but this debut from Melbourne-based Swazi Gold has recently fallen into our laps. The name Swazi Gold feels particularly apt as the band clearly takes a number of its cues from African music, particularly in the spiky guitars, but reinvents this sound into something more akin to leftfield pop music. Like Vampire Weekend before them, there’s a sense of prioritising melody first and then adding instrumentation to enable the melody to be driven forwards.

Swazi Gold are a three-piece with a focus on guitar, bass, vocals and synths. The drums are supplied courtesy of a drum machine. Vocal duties are shared between the various members, with each taking their turn at the mic. There are only six tracks on offer here, making the record feel lighter than your average album, but the six tracks have a coherent feel and highlight the band’s song writing well. A small point, but I’ve personally found that after repeated listens, the drum machine detracts slightly from the album; tracks such as ‘As You Go’ and ‘Free Nelly’ would really benefit from a real drummer, particularly if the repetitive 4/4 beat were replaced with a more interesting push beat. Overall, this band has a nice feel but is a little too restrained and relaxed. It would be interesting to hear what Swazi Gold might sound like if they were to really let themselves go.

The different vocals add a third dimension to this album – ‘Reflections’ possesses a late night Nick Cave vibe, especially when compared to, say, ‘Tumbleweed’, a much more upbeat number in the vocal style of Tom Petty. I particularly like the understated synth and key changes.

Overall, Jehovah’s Whispers is a nice sounding album. For my money, it could have been even better with a drummer and a handful more songs. However, it’s really great to hear new music coming out of Australia.