“Steering Wheel” (by Spitfire Parade)
The name of this band would suggest an anglophile bent – whether referring to the famous WWII fighter plane, the classic Triumph sportscar, the 1966 BSA motorbike or the 10 Royal Navy ships that bore the moniker Spitfire. A casual listen to their music might even bear this out, with its nods to the British punk of Wire and The Buzzcocks. But as much as ‘Parallel Gram’ – the first track off Spitfire Parade’s new EP Time Forward – spits and snarls with punk energy, buzzsaw guitars and a hyperactive rhythm, the vocal is curiously at odds with its skip-hop phrasing and parochial accent. Not that I have anything against Australian rap – I just didn’t expect it. Full marks to the band for putting their most atypical song first on a CD though.
Full marks also for the spray-painted, collaged cardboard covers. Spitfire Parade’s hands-on approach to artwork reflects the DIY spirit of their music. This band is clearly not in it for money or fame, but for the sheer love of making a racket and writing streamlined power-pop nuggets that burst with melodic hooks. Much of this is due to the combination of driving guitar and drums that appear to be played over the top of a drum machine beat; a neat trick that harks back to mid-’80s production techniques, but is generally shunned by today’s retro rockers.
The prominent melody lines are supplied by a weedling analogue synthesizer, played in the classic one-finger style. On songs like ‘Acid Tongue’ and ‘Saw Her Around’ they exhibit inner-city post-punk tones that would have been right at home on the Dogs In Space soundtrack.
The stand-out track, however, is ‘Mint Edition’, which has hit single written all over it. With its see-sawing bass line and killer sing-along chorus, “Last night I dreamed/I held you in my arms/You were big and strong/Protecting me from harm”, this song is a dance floor filler if ever I’ve heard one. It provides a tantalising glimpse of Spitfire Parade’s considerable pop nous before they careen down a different road again on the aptly titled closer ‘Steering Wheel’.
There is a fine tradition of songs that evoke the sensation of motoring away on a nighttime road to oblivion, but ‘Steering Wheel’ nails it. A great cyclic guitar riff, unstoppable programmed drum beats and the spectres of Peter Murphy and Stephen Hawking mumbling incoherently in a daze of white-line fever and trucker speed as they plunge ever deeper into the heart of darkness.
by René Schaefer
Steering Wheel by Spitfire Parade is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) 3.0 International License.