Something For Kate, one of Australia’s most loved and obdurately independent indie bands, have just released their seventh album, The Modern Medieval, eight years after Release Your Soul To Science. Just don’t suggest to song writer singer and guitarist, Paul Dempsey, that his band’s latest offering is a comeback album.
This is the sound of a band whose members have thrown down the gauntlet to each other, challenged themselves to be better and, rather than shy away from the size of the task, have used their internal friction to create a towering edifice of song that is held together with crackling energy.
“I’m very quick to correct people on that,” said Dempsey, “We haven’t gone anywhere, we’ve played shows every one of the last eight years. I guess when you’ve already got six albums out, the decision to go on your or play shows doesn’t have to be pegged to an album release.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Around The Sound, Dempsey did everything but serenade us with a solo acoustic rendition of one of the tracks from The Modern Medieval.
Speaking about Something For Kate’s fresh approach to writing and recording The Modern Medieval, Dempsey said, “When you’ve done that for 25 years, you’ve earned a trust, and that trust means that you can make whatever kind of record you like.”
Speaking about the longevity of his band, Dempsey mused that, “After 25 years we’re good at having fiery, intense arguments in the rehearsal room and then going to get lunch and not taking it with us.”
On the music on The Modern Medieval, Dempsey said, “We strive to create music that is complex and multilayered and multidimensional, that keeps revealing itself after multiple listens….I don’t want to get bored and I’m easily bored.
“It’s a different Something For Kate this time around.”
You can watch the full interview here…
Speaking to Around The Sound, Dempsey talked about how the Something For Kate that created The Modern Medieval is a different outfit to the band that created the first six albums, saying that, “Part of the unexpected benefit of leaving it eight years between creating an album is that you’re almost a new band when you come at it again. Eight years changes people and it changes your taste, it changes your approach and it changes your chemistry and your interaction.”
So, how has this influenced the music on the new record? Well, diehard Something For Kate fans needn’t worry. The Modern Medieval is a classic Something For Kate record, packed full of songs that deliver more the more you listen, and that foreground Dempsey’s trademark vocals and guitar work, lifted up by Stephanie Ashworth’s alluring bass, and Clint Hyndman’s pulsing, fidgety drums. The signature vocal harmonies are like a comforting aural doona, they bring you home to Something For Kate’s world, one we’ve been missing for eight long years.
There’s nothing to fear for the diehard fans in this new record, in fact, it’s very likely that history will judge The Modern Medieval among Something For Kate’s best. But that’s a conjecture for another time, let’s stay in the present for a few moments more.
As well as being a classic Something For Kate record, The Modern Medieval also is brand spanking new. The songs on this record see the band drawing on a wider aural palette and Dempsey, at the exhortation of his bandmates, has pushed his vocal performance to something approaching what you’d expect at a Something For Kate live show. Case in point is the raw emotion that is the opening of ‘Situation Room’, where Dempsey plaintively laments, I keep on finding things I wasn’t looking for/ Solutions to problems I never even had, with a break in his voice that is as moving and honest as anything we’ve heard him deliver in a recording studio. This is one of many hairs-standing-on-end moments that The Modern Medieval delivers.
There’s a lot to digest in Something For Kate’s seventh album. Successive listens bring new insights into the songcraft and instrumentation. The album shifts effortlessly from frenetic to balladry and sparkles as a result of the spit and polish the band’s members have put on the 10 tracks that comprise The Modern Medieval.
This is the sound of a band whose members have thrown down the gauntlet to each other, challenged themselves to be better and, rather than shy away from the size of the task, have used their internal friction to create a towering edifice of song that is held together with crackling energy. The songs on The Modern Medieval push and pull internally and up against each other as if they might simultaneously implode and explode. There’s enough combustion on this album that you can sense its tang as you listen.
The Modern Medieval is a fecund, sumptuous buffet for lovers of Something For Kate that is sure to win them new listeners.
Listen to The Modern Medieval here…