Brisbane’s John Steel Singers are a joyful band of psychedelic experimentalists, in thrall to a past where rock was a counter-culture secret. Close in adventurous spirit to peak-period Super Furry Animals and the Beta Band, the 12 songs on their second album, Everything’s A Thread, bounce eagerly between psych, old-school indie, spindly post-punk and Krautrock, powered by four-part sunshine pop harmonies from multi-instrumentalists Scott Bromiley, Tim Morrissey, Pete Bernoth and Luke McDonald.
The story goes that they hid themselves from the influence of 21st-century pop by jamming in a studio-cum-beach house owned by one their mothers, surrounding themselves with ancient guitars, synths and valve amps. They’ve been mentored by veteran keepers-of-the-indie flame Robert Forster of the Go-Betweens and cult journalist Everett True.
What could have been a mess feels coherent and uplifting, where even the melancholy moments sound like an attempt to take flight. The struts and spasms of outstanding drummer Ross Chandler drive the funk of tracks like “Lambs,” while the evocative twang of “The Needle” and the melodic throb of “The Marksman” suck you into a classic guitar-pop world where the music of the past never feels like pastiche.
A rich seam of space-cadet psychedelia runs through many of the bands coming out of Australia at the moment, but this immersive album of head-pop is anchored by solid tunes, sharp hooks and harmonies. It’s a trip that everyone can get on board.