The self-titled album Midnight Scavengers by Australia’s Midnight Scavengers is an array of goth, surf, classic rock and film noir swirled into one. The band alternates male and female lead vocals that vary in influence between Nick Cave and Marianne Faithful. There’s a cryptic-ness to the album that is intriguing and the band certainly sells it very well. In particular the piano and vibraphone playing are exceptional and really add to the sonic palette the band creates.
If Raymond Chandler were writing hard-boiled detective noirs set in post-industrial-scene Berlin, Midnight Scavengers would make an excellent soundtrack for the film. The best songs include opener “Ghost Town,” which combines California surf with minor chords and haunting vocals that answer and harmonize with each other. A vibraphone plays throughout adding shimmer and a sense of mystery to the atmosphere. “Killing Time” could be a slow-dance in a roadside saloon. There’s some great tremolo guitar and some Mike Garson-esque piano playing that flourishes around an imaginary mirror ball.
“Sweet Soft Pearls” moves from creepy Brechtian sounds to grungy shoegaze rock with evocative vocals that utter longing and distain. “Good As Sin” is the best song on the album with its move to half time in the chorus bringing out the full epic-ness of the rock. The fuzzed out guitars drive the song while the piano shimmers in front.
A great strength of the album is just that, a combination of juxtapositions of mood and sound. Gorgeous piano and vibraphones against thrashing drums and fuzzed out guitars. Soulful vocals against haunted spoken passages. Noisy rock violin. It works for most of the album and lets most of the songs walk the line of sincerity.
“S&M Hearts” is a sort of “White Light/White Heat” era Velvet Underground-like exploration of sound. It goes on a little long as a studio version, though it might have more strength as a live number. It gets to an interesting point by the end of the song but doesn’t necessarily feel earned.
The album closes with “2 Legged Rat” which is a Tom Waits-ish junkyard band vibe that has lots of energy. Edgy saxophones compliment the bass line and the Ornette Coleman free jazz elements of the song. Combine that with the Iggy Pop & The Stooges rave-up and that’s certainly an interesting sound. Midnight Scavengers is true to their name and have picked up some fantastic elements of a variety of music and forged them into their own unique sound.
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