Something for Kate – Echolalia

The success of Something for Kate’s previous album, Beautiful Sharks, was the culmination of many years of hard touring and recording for the band. National recognition had come earlier, in the shape of their hit single “Captain” off Elsewhere for 8 Minutes, which supplemented their already dedicated fanbase, but it was Beautiful Sharks that established them as Australian mainstays alongside fellow luminaries Powderfinger.

The progression of their distinctive sound – most notably frontman Paul Dempsey’s voice – over the course of their three previous releases is marked; where gritty yet fluid rock tunes used to be, more tuneful and precise songs now stood. This evolution from aggression to craftsmanship is completed on Echolalia, the band’s most recent release, as they capitalize on the larger budget that the success of Beautiful Sharks afforded them.

On first listen, one aspect of the album stands out in particular, that being the production. Paul’s voice is rock soild and foremost amongst some very slick production work; gone are any glitches or rawness in sound that the band used to have. However, such a slickness in sound is not necessarily a good thing on all tracks; whilst it works exceedingly well on some numbers, allowing various subtle layers to be added, on others it robs the songs of vitality, as is the case of the first single from the album, “Monsters,” which, although interesting enough at first, becomes repetitive and cloying after repeated listens.

In fact, the album is most successful when it strays away from the mid-tempo rockers that have been the three singles so far. Whilst “Monsters,” “20 Years,” and “Three Dimensions” are all nice enough, they add nothing new or exciting to the Something for Kate legacy. However, the slow-burning third track, “Jerry Stand Up,” is a perfect example of Something for Kate getting it absolutely right. This direction in sound was most strongly hinted at in “Astronaut,” a single from Beautiful Sharks, which slowed the usual SFK tempo considerably. On “Jerry Stand Up,” this quiet tone is given a more ominous and brooding underpinning, which perfectly suit the lyrical musings of Dempsey. Other highlights on the album include “Old Pictures” and “Stunt Show,” the album opener.

Lyrically, the album is mostly concerned about the alienation of the individual within a busy, thankless society. “Jerry Stand Up” is a plea to anyone stuck in a boring 9 to 5 job to reassess their priorities and take up something they love. Whilst Dempsey’s musings on the subject have at other times come across as a bit too preachy and ‘woe is me,’ on “Jerry Stand Up” the subject is treated perfectly and with necessary restraint.

It’s only now that Something For Kate are beginning to garner the success that they’ve deserved for quite some time. The slicker, more accessible nature of Echolalia has seen them graduate from underground favourites to more mainstream channels, be it on TV or radio. Whilst some fans might miss the spontaneity and rawness of earlier releases, the increased accessibility of Echolalia shouldn’t be seen as a deliberate attempt for success. Rather, Echolalia is the sound of a band content to explore new areas that succeeds more often than it fails.