The Woods Themselves – ‘(C’mon) Do the Beach Thing’

September 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

Published: The Vine, September 25, 2008.

The Woods Themselves
(C’mon) Do the Beach Thing

The interrelation between turmoil and good art is almost an unspoken law. Cliché or no, the ruling rings true again with (C’mon) Do the Beach Thing. Indeed, there’s something of a torrid undercurrent to the story of straggling Sydney-based ensemble The Woods Themselves. If we’re to believe the tales, their brand new second album – which follows on from their celebrated self-titled debut of 2004 – was anything but a smooth ride. Break-ups, creative tensions, marriages, births, deaths, redefinition; the quintet have led nothing short of a marred existence over recent years.

It’s written all over the collection of songs that string together (C’mon) Do the Beach Thing; it’s in their veins. From the pealing, fall-apart rhythms and melodics of opening sketch ‘Buy Some Time’, the record echoes with slow-moving volatility, both musical and thematic. These languid, loose-ended pop songs are neither sure of themselves nor comfortable in their own skin, and they’re all the better for it.

On paper it’s conventional enough; guitars, piano, plodding bass and drums score front man Davey Cotsios’s obtuse yearnings. But it’s the way these blues, country and 60s pop-flourished fragments are stitched and glued together that gives them their identity. Much of this would comes down to the man at the controls. Farmyard production maestro Tony Dupe plies his wonderful ear for both distance and proximity – looseness and essentialism – to these lovingly tangled arrangements and rattling odes.

There are several highlights, from the stuttering rhythms and melodics of ‘Groovewind’ and classic pop of ‘Comforted & Questioned’, to the limping balladry of ‘Peach’s Pit’ and the ridiculously pretty ‘The Ark’. But this record isn’t really about standouts.

(C’mon) Do the Beach Thing draws its idiosyncrasy from its collectively paradoxical qualities. A familiarity of genre and form is offset by succession of subtle off-kilterisms; a gently rambling dynamic brushes up against a sense of intimacy and closeness. Piano’s plonk like they’re in the room; stray guitar lines drift and bounce off walls.

While so many groups feel the need to harness a kind of exactitude of creative vision, it’s the unashamed uneasiness that makes (C’mon) Do the Beach Thing and The Woods Themselves all the more enthralling.

Dan Rule


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