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AUGIE MARCH Bootikins gets 8/10

Augie March
Bootikins
Caroline

8/10

From a band I used to believe was one person (my mother’s response: “Who on earth would name their son Augie?!”) comes another cultivated and thoughtful release. Bootikins dabbles in a bit of it all; Roman history, pressing politics and mullings-over of the twilight years to name a few.

Bootikins was produced by the legendary Tony Cohen (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party) before his untimely passing mid-last year. It is a true testament to what beauty can spawn when a talented band and a knowledgeable producer join forces. Songs such as the title track and Fake Jive (but let’s be honest, all of them could apply) are best enjoyed with good headphones at a decent volume; their intricacies emerge like the aural version of an I spy puzzle if one engages enough. Even when just listening casually, the level of attention to detail is striking. 

In typical Augie fashion, the lyrical matter on this record appears shrouded in mystery and symbolism, bar a few exceptions like When I Am Old. Said track is a cynical, or perhaps sober, dwelling on ageing, presented in a beautifully soft arrangement. Its sound meets the perfect balance between having universal appeal and being distinctive; radio play for this one seems inevitable. 

The Heaviest Stone is particularly intriguing, in part due to a phone message which precedes the tune; “It’s Graham, can you put some bread away for me tomorrow? Thank you.” Sonically it’s perky and light; a distraction from its topic which is similar to that of WIAO, except it approaches death head on. It leads the listener to wonder what Graham’s circumstances are, and perhaps where his fate may lie.

Mephistopheles Perverted is a musical adaptation of the Kenneth Slessor poem; a perhaps unexpected inclusion on the record. Nevertheless, its classic rock feel is very much its own and is proof that a song need not materialise entirely from thin air to be creative. It serves as a positive example for those who suffer from writers’ block or low confidence in their art; you’re allowed to acknowledge what inspires you and perhaps rework it into something of  your own.

In a general sense it’s hard to analyse Bootikins, as is any Augie release. The words feel as though they could mean anything, and you dare not take a stab at their meanings lest you fall flat. The music is all over the place in the most beautiful of ways, and it’s hard to discern whether it’s meant to make you feel overjoyed, melancholy or something in between. Sometimes, though, this is the best type of music. It’s all too easy to fall into a habit of consuming ‘fast pop’, akin to fast food; it may feel good at the time but the aftermath leaves you unsatisfied and hungering for more. On the other side of the coin you have Bootikins; the hearty stew which fills you up and leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth.

ELOISE PARKS

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