Personnel: Scott O'Hara, Gill Tucker, Craig Dermody (vocals, guitar); Esther Edquist (vocals, piano, keyboards); Joe Alexander (vocals, drums).
Audio Mixer: Jack Farley.
Recording information: Smooch Studios (2016).
Mid Thirties Single Scene is the first full-length by Scott and Charlene's Wedding since the shambling indie pop band left New York City and eventually returned to their native Australia. As such, leader Craig Dermody is no longer singing about working at star-studded hipster bars or stumbling around Manhattan wondering what he's even doing there. The influence of New York rock & roll will never leave the band's music, however; if anything, they sound more like the Velvet Underground and Television now than ever before. Dermody's rambling, half-spoken intonation is basically a dead-on impression of Lou Reed on opener "Maureen," which even shares its name with VU's drummer. What hasn't changed a bit is Dermody's self-deprecating sense of humor or his knack for writing wry observations about the mundane details of day-to-day life. He still seems to jot down his thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness manner without trying to force them to rhyme, and he hasn't particularly made more of an effort to sing in tune, but his songs are still a joy to listen to because of his easygoing manner and casual, occasionally funny lyrics. Single "Don't Bother Me" handily sums up his outlook on life: he's clumsy at dancing and his favorite football team never wins, but overall he's doing all right. A few songs touch on broken relationships, as one would expect from an album titled Mid Thirties Single Scene. "Scrambled Eggs" balances lines about Dermody's daily routine (breakfast, work, drinking at the bar with friends) with thoughts about what his ex-lover is doing, punctuated by the chorus "my life was so different when I knew you." "Distracted" is about being stuck at home without a job, mired in depression. While Dermody doesn't explicitly reference a breakup in the song, one gets the idea that it's partially what caused his state of dissatisfaction and lack of motivation. On a few songs, the band stretches out for extended periods of reflection and heated guitar solos. But then it's back to the short, hooky tunes. The album ends on an unexpectedly tender note with the heartfelt duet "Forever and a Day," which returns to the line "I was sent to you" over brushed drums, acoustic guitars, and gentle pianos. ~ Paul Simpson