Sweet, With Teeth – Trick Mammoth’s debut album “Floristry”

Trick Mammoth
Floristry
Fishrider

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If you want to know what new young band Trick Mammoth is all about, skip ahead to the end of debut album Floristry, out digitally next week on Fishrider Records, available in physical form early 2014. There you’ll find a near-three minute jangling bangling gem called, with exacting tracklisting logic, “Week End” that’s distilled down to a gladsomely faceted, handsomely focused, fine-toothed essence, all a-gleam with Tracyanne vocals, a percolating, eager beat, tight, clean New Zealand guitars essaying the soft side of aggressive, and, oh yeah, a melody that’ll bring you to your knees, where you’ll still find a way bounce about to its unquenchable groove. Yep, you guessed it, just another quiet miracle of sound and economic beauty stealing our hearts and ears courtesy the bottomless genetic pool that is Dunedin.

Negotiating the alternately bustling and becalmed borderlands between the rich historic pop tapestries of their legendary forbears and those paragons of Glaswegian indie-pop literacy referenced above, Trick Mammoth (Adrian Ng and Millie Lovelock swapping guitars and vocals, moonlighting Male Sam Valentine on drums) stake out their own unique territory where the delicate shows a sure-footed grit, the flowers get crushed by hammers (no, really, in the winsome, gently-rolled “Terracotta”), where, to put it briefly, the sweet has some teeth.

trick mammoth

That contrast, the downcast lyric set inside some prettified instrumentation, is of course as old as pop music itself, providing a delicious tension that makes the medicine of heartbreak and lifelong teenage blues go down with a frug and a shimmy. Or a shimmer, as is most often the case with Floristry, the tracks passing by in a dream of shifting tempos, the band’s sound simultaneously fragile and rock steady. As an example take, well, take just about anything on here, really. Quick opener “Baltimore” bolts out of the gate with a popped drum and a couple of measured but racing guitars, settling into a lilted romp once Millie starts singing, the frantic under neat control, melody zinging all over the place. Similarly, “Days of Being Wild” trips by like Luna on an adrenaline picnic, Adrian’s guitar running away with the wine as the song ends. “Cold Dalmation,” all poignant strum and longing lead, suggests Buffalo Tom was born in the wrong country, wrong century (but with the right cadence) and is all the more effective for it, a song for which the phrase ‘joyous melancholy’ might well have to be minted. On “Delphine (With A Purpose)” that same thrumming gist as heard on “Week End” is on display if with a slightly earthier churn to it, the more to drive home the sad indictment within (let’s just say Delphine’s not quite who she seems to be). Only on the pretty-but-ponderous “Himalayas” do they dip into a bit of a paint-by-numbers malaise and even that sports a lovely, reflective twinkle that may well soundtrack your next long night of loneliness.

With a sound that’s bright and agile yet anchored by a low-end traction that anchors the record somewhere deep inside the solar plexus (thank you 3Ds and The Clean assistant producer Tex Houston), Floristry is more than just still another lucent, irrepressibly buoyant debut bubbling up out of the cool pop cauldron of Dunedin (though without a doubt it’s all that), it’s also a kaleidoscopic calling card of a band endowed with a natal understanding of their craft and a melodic promise well beyond their years. You may get tired of hearing such sentiments applied to this new crop of Kiwi sound merchants, but you will most certainly not tire of actually hearing them. This is the type sound we were given ears for.