The Cactus Channel: Stay A While

- The new full-length from Cactus Channel starts out by showcasing the band's mellower side. Gentle, watery tremolo guitars and vibraphone shimmer over a laidback funk shuffle as smooth horns exhale over the top. The band has always managed to evoke a kind of cinematic Americana, and the album opening conjures a sprawling wide shot of desert scrub as our heroine embarks on a journey where she will (to quote Ben Pobjie) discover both America, AND herself.

Singer Lewis Coleman's laconic delivery on Storefront alongside their trademark vintage keyboard textures could easily be a hidden cut from the Virgin Suicides OST. It's a much more contemplative sound, a sideways step from the spaghetti western flavours of their debut, into indie cinema, or perhaps even art-house, but always with a heavy serving of sonic nostalgia. If Burt Bacharach were cooler, and younger, and living in Melbourne he might sound like this.

There's some pleasingly weird and music-nerdy stuff here: abstract chord progressions, noodley horn lines, skewed rhythmic features. Is this a symptom of the 'Kaiyotification' of the Oz music scene? Do artists feel a pressure to be more idiosyncratic, or has a new generation been let off the leash, released from the need to be easily pidgeon-holed?

From the completely beatless and ambient textural work on CornChips to the downright funkified (yet still spacey, math-y, and a little spooky) dance workout of Leech just one track later, it's the sound of an act looking for the next skin they can inhabit, and right now it's equal parts Mulatu Astatke and Tame Impala.

Stay A While is just shy of classically, anthemically stoner, but could take it's place in the pantheon of great make-out albums. The kids that aren't getting lit to this record this summer could well be getting laid. I think Cactus Channel are hoping that we stay awhile, stick with them as they reach for a new sound. At least long enough to see who our heroine is going to be when she gets to the end of the picture.

- Kieran Ruffles.

Album Details

Album Title: Stay A While
Artist: The Cactus Channel
Record Label: (Hopestreet)