Rackets And Fives – Roslyn

Rackets And Fives - Roslyn

Rackets And Fives - Roslyn

“I know this is all/I can’t help wanting more” runs the lyric of album opener “Good Behaviour” just as the evocatively Mediterranean guitars are joined by a mariachi trumpet break straight out of a Morricone score. Less than sixty seconds into Roslyn, and Rackets And Fives are bringing a tangible sense of high drama into play. The song would work well enough without them, but the horns add a definite lustre to an already tightly pieced together tale of roadtrip nihilism. “Peyton Place” is a faster, less mannered even frenetic lo-fi guitar collision, and again the brass section provides added depth and weight to Rackets And Fives skillfull chord switchings.

Two influences seem to provide this Australian band with their musical template. One is those eloquent outback romanticists the (also Australian) Triffids, while the other is late 60s US near geniuses Love, with Rackets And Fives taking an inspired cue from Arthur Lee’s observational lyrical style and also that bands developed, cinematic production style, with the horns augmented by orchestral backing throughout the eleven tracks on Roslyn. The songs themselves are redolent of the desert images of classic westerns, of late night journeys, thwarted assignations, barroom desperations, and shadows cloud the skies over the one horse town Rackets And Fives have accidentally arrived in, a haunted dustbowl where the radio keeps playing “Forever Changes” and the sheriff is Nick Cave.

“Storm Surge” takes on a bit of a lighter tone, and makes something of a play on the bands own lucid dourness, Rackets And Fives breaking into a beachside barn dance (if such things exist), with an a capella vocal mid section that’s quite wondrous in its choral simplicity and which leads into a psyched out midsection and then a pared down keyboard motif, like three or four songs playing almost at once. “Summers Here” is a gently paced ballad reminiscent of Mazzy Star, while “Hangman” with its cleverly turned lyric provides a memorable example of the bands ability with phrasing: “these pluses could be positives/or they could be tombstone crosses” runs singer David Owen’s vocal over a sliding violin part that evokes the questioning presence of Ben Folds. Finally, “The Confederate Gold Stand-Off” with its incessant bass drums and sharply tense guitar histrionics really does sound like a showdown underway, “I know you don’t mean me harm/you just do what it takes to get what you want”, Rackets And Fives end their eleven tracks in very much the way they began it, narrowing their eyes at the midday sun and staking their claim as inheritors of the wayward country stylings of the Triffids, of the widescreen honesties of Steve Earle, the rodeo bravura of the Byrds in their later phase, perhaps even Roy Rogers.

Australia has a western mythos every bit as ingrained into its psyche as that of the US, and it’s tribute to Rackets And Fives own determination to express this that what could’ve been conflicting influences in their songwriting actually complement each other. Roslyn is a measured blend of Alt. country, psychedelia and lo-fi indie held together with some bitingly poetic lyricism, resonant orchestration and Rackets And Fives own wide ranging talents. Inspired, almost defiantly verbose, and as memorable as any classic western.