HUMAN BUOY Animation Station gets 9/10

Human Buoy
Animation Station
Independent

9/10

Summer might seem a world away right now, but with debut album Animation Station from Human Buoy, aka Ben McDonald (bassist for Dream Rimmy, Shiny Joe Ryan and Grace Woodroofe among others) the sunny days have come early. Keeping those good vibrations happenin’, however, is no easy feat, with contemporary audiences suspicious of anything that sounds routine.

Thankfully, in the case of Animation Station, routine is resolutely banished in favour of a relentless creative inventiveness. And what a payoff! The listener is essentially swept up into a whirlwind of manic energy and never let down from there. 

One of the standout moments on the album is the insanely catchy number Fields. Complete with pulsating dance beats and bright bursts of chiming guitar, this barnstormer has all the makings of a classic summer anthem. Oxygen runs a very close second when it comes to bringing the good times, but on an album with so many poptastic peaks, this is no minor achievement.

What makes this debut so remarkable is how seamlessly all its influences have been incorporated into the finished product. From early 90s shoegaze (Vitamin C) to 60s psychedelia (echoes of Syd Barrett whimsy on Cartoon Crash) to the dance sounds of today (most obviously on Fields and Oxygen), nothing seems out of place.

While it has more in common with fellow WA outfits Tame Impala and Pond in terms of their shared genre-fusing tendencies than the band he is best known for being part of, Dream Rimmy, the reality is that Human Buoy is a bona fide pop artist.

All the proof you need can be heard in the shimmering pop sounds that dominate the record. Even songs that initially present themselves as slices of whigged-out prog, such as lead single Anvils (featuring a guest vocal from Pond’s Nicholas Allbrook), contain an irrepressible pop spirit, complete with soaring vocals and shining guitars.

The great joy of listening to this record comes from sharing in its unashamed sense of fun. Each song is shot through with a pop sensibility that never once slips into bad taste or wears out its welcome. In getting the balance just right, what we end up with is pop in its purest form: music that has you buzzing.

In a year which has already seen a number of great records (Pond’s The Weather and Fleet Foxes Crack-Up being at the top of this writer’s list), 2017 now has to make room for a new contender. Lay it down with me, indeed.

CHRIS PRINDIVILLE

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