Custard: The Common Touch

- Anybody who caught the triumphant shows Brisbane legends Custard played last year will confirm the four-piece can still put on a masterful indie pop gig. Luckily, they still make great new music as well, as proven by 2015’s Come Back, All Is Forgiven, the band’s first long-player since Loverama way back in 1999. Clearly, the chemistry was right, because slightly shy of two years later, they are back with their latest set of songs, The Common Touch. For Custard fans, the elements which attracted them in the first place are present and correct, though with a smoother, slightly lusher production than their classic era triumphs like Wisenheimer and We Have The Technology. The main ingredients remain intact – namely the quirky indie pop hooks, the off-kilter guitars and, of course, the witty songwriting and husky, conversational vocals of David McCormack. Also, when anyone else does a reggae pastiche track, it’s generally time to race for the off switch, but Custard somehow get away with it on the charming Hands On Fire. There’s also a touch of the lunatic art rock of early Mental As Anything in Sinking Deep. But, of course, Custard are also Gen-X’ers and inevitably a little greyer around the edges. With this comes a more wistful, melancholic side, illustrated in the sighing pedal steel and cello in Princess HWY and the Spike Milligan-paraphrasing chug of I’m Not Well. A further bright spot is newest single 2000 Woman, a fun, frenzied chunk of glam-tinged fuzz pop. But the true highlights would have to be the album opener In The Grand Scheme Of Things (None Of This Really Matters), which takes the Custard template and coats it all with strings and a Penny Lane-esque horn arrangement – it suggests an alternate universe in which the ‘90s indie veterans are transported to Abbey Road Studios in 1967. Equally as good is Halley’s Comet - “I watched Halley’s Comet go by / from a back yard in Indooroopill-eye” are the opening lines, before the tune unfolds in a rather dreamy country rock style like Pavement at their most poignant. So while this new album may not provide the excitement and electricity of discovering the band in their ‘90s heyday, it does have the distinction of showing a veteran band actually enhancing their own catalogue and legacy with strong new music. It really is a case of growing old with dignity and I for one am thoroughly enjoying edging ever closer to my autumn years with these tunes in my headphones.

- Matt Thrower.


Album Details

Album Title: The Common Touch
Artist: Custard
Record Label: (ABC / Universal)