By Tom Randall
There are few pleasures in life greater than when your high expectations are met.
Bambino Koresh are Leticia Nischang, Tom Morgan, and Sarah McEwen. They each have a looooooong history of making adroit and airborne pop magic (get thee to the Googles if you need convincing, True Believer!). With Up And Left, they get on and make more of it; pop of such elegance and immaculacy of form that it seems scarcely possible that they can make it sound as blithe and buoyant as they do.
There is no bullshit here. No focus-tested beats, no custom-tweaked VSTs. Just tunes up the freaking wazoo, dude, and a vocal timbre so exquisite as to provoke heart pangs and tear-welling in extremis. Leticia’s singing ascends at every opportunity to the lofty and unadulterated stratum that Juliana Hatfield first illuminated. Relaxed hooks slip breezily into your brain and don’t try to shag the shit out of you like so much contemporary pop does. Familiar chords are placed in canny structures to make extraordinary songs that speak with the familiar authority of the everywoman (aka the “Teenage Fanclub effect”). It’s warm, profound, breathlessly beautiful at times, varied, and direct.
Words are superfluous. If this song makes your throat slightly tighten and just gets you somewhere between the sternum and the spine, then Up And Left will take hold of you.
From the heartbreaking anthemic coda of ‘Freesoul’, to the liberal dabs of country that lift ‘Just Accept It’ to majesty, to the taut crunch of the verses of ‘The System Tells’, every gorgeous sliver of melody woven through these songs stands brazen and vulnerable. Up And Left has become the soundtrack to the rehabilitation of my dishevelled and slackened soul. It has helped balance an unmitigated lust for discord, and been the tonic for a long-aching estrangement from the cup of creation. I know I’m laying it on thick. It’s just that Up And Left bestows such an incredible grace in its 47 minutes that I feel the vacuum it leaves when I’m not listening to it.
I can’t tell you happy it makes me that records like are being made in Australia and in the second decade of the 21st Century. Same goes for Beaches, Songs, Super Wild Horses, Eddy Current, Kitchen’s Floor, Royal Headache, etc, etc. Not because Bambino Koresh have anything to do with these bands, but just because they’re all instances of something awesome and genuine that’s happening here and that’s happening now. I used to think that this was the Sydney nobody sings anymore, but it’s still there, bucking against corporatism, aspirational upward mobilisation, the dickhead gentrification of inner city pubs and their fixie-riding beardy patrons.
I’m sorry; I’ve exhausted my arsenal of trite superlatives, so I’ll spare you further barrage. What makes Up And Left great is beyond verbiage. It’s honest pop that kicks against the pricks that abound in this town, their monuments to crass anti-ideals and their scene composed of pictures of people with drinks in their hands.
Up And Left is more proof that our people are still here, and they still give enough of a shit about not giving a shit as to give us gems like this.