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Mark with the Sea

Ballarat’s Mark with the Sea excel at the type of Australiana that Paul Kelly, Crowded House and The Gin Club churn out in their sleep. Songs are filled with plenty of space for deliberation, with it all rooted in a specific time and place that could only be the best friggin’ country in the world.

Opener Bows & Arrows is an immediate classic with a tight, moody grip and menacing guitars suggesting a threat just below the surface. Type Bows & Arrows into YouTube if you’re tickled by the idea of a grown man dancing senselessly in his jocks and I’ll wait here. Adding members and filling the sound out more since 13 Years (2013) suits them well, as the group are at their best when they use the whole band and deviate towards the sinister, as the aforementioned Bows, Kind of Girl and Who Will Watch Over You will attest.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ll Be the Artist and Go to Sleep have a calming and sweet veneer. They could be lullabies, if your kids aren’t old enough to clock the existential dread contained within. LaLoveLosLost is another potential single; both an upbeat and unsettling excursion that concludes in Los Angeles, with the listener not certain if this is he idyllic place of palm trees and sunshine or the unseen and dark side of the American Dream described in Nick Toshes’ Dean Martin biography Dino. Great care has been put into this album, and like all your favourite stuff, it sounds way better on headphones.

Nick Hilton - Beat Magazine, 41/2 Stars (When the Blood Runs Dry)

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