Friday, November 5, 2010

The Triffids - Love In Bright Landscapes


Regrets, I have a few, but then too few to mention...

Actually, one of the few, now that I mention it, is that I never got the chance to see The Triffids.  I had a few chances too, let me tell you.  But for some reason or other (probably involving too much of a good time elsewhere) I never took the opportunity, instead probably dismissing the idea with glib thoughts that I will see them 'later on'.  Of course, that later time never came.  The death of David McComb a decade ago, at the way too young age of 37, means that despite the rest of the band still being around, the voice, that voice, the one that wrote all the songs that made The Triffids what they are, will never be heard again.

There is so much about The Triffids sound that is quintessentially Australian but in such a way that only the most astute observer would understand.  This is what make them unique in the annuls of Australian music.  They were more than just a great band playing some of the best songs this wide brown land has produced, they carried the flag around the world, and in doing so thankfully corrupted the view that we are a nation of drunken loud-mouthed misogynistic yobs.

But I'm ashamed to say I've never actually owned any of their albums.  I lived in plenty of share houses where their music was often played, but I never owned any myself.  To be honest, I feel a little sick about this because listening to Love In Bright Landscapes, I got a clear reminder of why I love music so much: it is because (and I am probably misquoting someone here, so I apologise in advance) music is the sound of feeling.  And The Triffids were able to feel so very much.



It seems a heresy to see a Triffids anthology that doesn't include Wide Open Road, but this particular collection pulls together the hits of this quintessentially Australian band right up until the moment they released their landmark album,  Born Sandy Devotional.  And it's in our collection because I bought it.  And I bought it because it has my favourite Triffids song on it - My Baby Thinks She's A Train.  And I love that because the lyrics are so nonsensical, but at the same time poignant.  Does he really mean she's going crazy?  She's hearing voices and doesn't know the difference between pleasure and pain. 

But listening to this collection today made me wonder exactly what it is that makes the Triffids embody that essence of Australian music - although there's no doubt they do, just as the Go-Betweens did at much the same time, and as Paul Kelly manages to do over and over.  There's a sense of space and light in some of the songs.  A sense of realism, which the harsh Australian sun forces upon our landscape.  (I guess the collection's title wasn't chosen lightly.)  There's a feeling of almost-country in the songwriting - and is that born from the endless driving between towns and more towns that bands do here, to get their songs heard?

Whatever it is, I haven't played this collection often enough.  It's definitely one for the next road trip - when I get to see that bright landscape with the best soundtrack I could imagine for it.


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