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SHEPPARTON AIRPLANE Sharks gets 5/10


Shepparton Airplane

Sharks
Wing Sing

5/10

Shepparton Airplane are a Melbourne supergroup of sorts, comprising members of Graveyard Train and the rhythm section from modern punk heroes The Peep Tempel. Their third LP sees them expand their palette, adding more psychedelic and shoegaze sounds to their post-punk formula. This album certainly sounds the part from a technical perspective, but it’s in dire need of some songs to go with the thunder.

With a pedigree so strong, the band’s sound is as powerful as you’d expect. The Peep Tempel rhythm section is tight and bassist Stewart Rayner has some standout moments, like the frenetic lick running throughout single Fear. The guitar sound also recalls some of that Tempel magic, with walls of distortion threatening to bury the listener throughout, and some great overdriven leads like the guitar lines on Shame Spirals. Everything comes through with the right balance, courtesy of award-winning sound engineer Anna Laverty (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Florence + The Machine). The bass, drums and lead guitar cut through crystal clear under the roaring drone of rhythm guitars.

Unfortunately, this beautiful-sounding album strongly needs some actual tunes to go with it. At times this sounds like some of Peep Tempel’s more expansive efforts. There are no anthems like Carol here, or much songwriting at all for that matter. It’s understood that Shepparton Airplane has dug from the well of Sonic Youth’s noise-drone and the unconventional art-punk of Wire, but there’s no expansion on this well-worn template. Instead this largely instrumental album is just one set of droning tracks after another. It is underpinned by a rather pedestrian riffage. Vocals pop up rarely and are lazily repeated phrases like those shouted on Fear, the Sonic Youth-isms on So Cool, or Congratulations which just sounds like an excerpt from a substandard King Gizzard jam.

The instrumentation is mixed perfectly but, being predominantly guitar/drums/bass, it’s treading a well-worn path. Closing track Fleeting for example, is six minutes of slow build and Western-tinged tremolo guitar of the type that’s been done a thousand times before. Album centrepiece No Stars is even worse, an utterly forgettable eight-minute jam. It’s a shame because when the band does try to establish a mood and melody, like on the spooky Right Out of This World, it comes off well.

Overall this is a disappointing release from a band that have much more to offer. Fans of guitar distortion may find this engaging, but if it’s songs you’re looking for there then you may want to scratch your itch elsewhere.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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