Always one of the most intricately thoughtful bands, Melbourne’s Something For Kate have kept fans waiting some eight years for a new album, but as always it’s definitely worth the wait. The Modern Medieval, out Friday, November 20, is their follow up to 2012’s Leave Your Soul To Science, and sees the group at their beautifully melancholy best, offering up yet another selection of well crafted songs.
Opening with All The Great Minds, it’s immediately evident that Something For Kate have lost none of their creative momentum in the intervening years. Vocalist Paul Dempsey still manages to deliver his trademark sonorous inflection with true passion atop a driving rhythm complete with some tasteful piano melodies, and bassist Stephanie Ashworth’s harmonies complement his deep voice perfectly.
One of the true highlights of the Something For Kate “sound” has always been their innate ability to hang a syncopated vocal line over a fairly straightforward instrumentation, and yet again Come Back Before I Come To My Senses is a prime example; with verses that almost seem off time before the chorus slams the song into fourth gear.
But it’s certainly not all upbeat rock songs here at all. Situation Room and Supercomputer slip into the realm of that subdued exquisite calm that has always been the flip side of the band. Elsewhere there are some incredibly Bowie-esque overtones too; Inside Job has some very Ashes to Ashes type verses (no surprise given their love for the late artist, touring Australia with him in 2005) and a wealth of influences can be heard all across the tracks here, melded into a seamless construct as only Something For Kate can achieve.
Last Resort Town almost lifts a Noel Gallagher guitar riff for its intro and gives the album an uplifting contrast, as Dempsey sings “l couldn’t be happier” over a glorious chord progression with Ashworth’s high vocals enriching the finished article. I Will Defeat You rounds out the proceedings in trademark style with a big chorus soaring over lovely guitar and piano lines.
Eight years may seem like a bloody long time between albums but Something For Kate have delivered a record crammed full of the kind of musical brilliance we’ve come to expect from them. This is a mature collection of songs that are so well balanced they should be used as the benchmark upon which all other albums of their ilk should be judged. And at a time when our music industry is at its most perilous having a record of this kind of calibre released should serve as a clear and direct indication that our industry is well and truly alive and brilliant.