The Steve Hensby Band
Modern Music For Modern People
It’s the end of the world and what does Steve Hensby do about it? He makes a record of course. Modern Music For Modern People is a concept album that takes humanity’s dire circumstances — incompetent politicians, the insidious Internet, climate change, the whole shebang — and turns them into a glittering musical journey that sidesteps all the doom and gloom, delivering track after track of aural goodness. If we’re all going to die, we may as well have a good time while we’re on the way out.
It’s a masterpiece of joy in an age where most of us seem to be competing with each other to see who can be the most aggressively pessimistic person in the chat room.
And, did we mention, it’s a concept album? Pretty brave thing to do in the age of short attention spans, monthly single releases, Spotify, etc., etc., so it would want to be good.
Modern Music For Modern People chronicles Mista Twista and his interactions in the world in 2020. Reputedly a quirky man who enjoys the quiet life working in his barbershop, Mister Twista has brilliant stories to tell of his adventures and travels. By the end of the album, as Armageddon strikes the world, the only two people left on earth are Mista Twista and his lover, all alone serenading each other while trying to survive to live to fight another day.
As with all good, perhaps great, concept albums, Modern Music For Modern People is a sprawling affair that pays no mind to musical fashions or genres, it’s just track after track of compelling music and storytelling. Mind you, having an eight-piece band at your disposal, with plenty of brass on board does give Hensby a wide canvas to paint on, so why not use all the colours?
Asked where all that’s on the record came from, Hensby simply said, “My silly brain and some outstanding musicians I have the privilege of playing with.” It’s a typically self-effacing response from a musician who, with this latest record, is now established as one of Perth’s premier musicians, singers and song writers and is ready to take on the world — if the world doesn’t end on him before he manages to get the word out.
On this topic, Hensby also is typically upbeat, saying, “We’ll definitely survive. There’s too much good in the world. Sometimes it’s hard to find, but then we should take it upon ourselves to look harder.”
So, what’s the music like? Modern Music For Modern People, paints a picture of Armageddon that is something akin to a journey through Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the version starring Gene Wilder. It’s beautifully lurid and and addictively sweet, with dark overtones; but if you’re good enough, you’ll definitely survive the ending of the world and, with a soundtrack like this, you’ll never want the ending to … end.
Hensby has all the musical sensibilities of a Paul McCartney; he can make beautiful pop music out of anything from a bossa nova to a ballad. He also has the quirky, way left-of-field world view of a Frank Zappa. And with Modern Music For Modern People, he’s created his most cohesive, most Steve Hensby album to date. It’s a masterpiece of joy in an age where most of us seem to be competing with each other to see who can be the most aggressively pessimistic person in the chat room.
If the world really has to end, whether you’ve decided to fall on your sword or put up a fight, Modern Music For Modern People is an album that you can happily use as the soundtrack to your last moments without worrying whether your headstone will read, ‘They simply weren’t cool enough.’
You can get Modern Music For Modern People here and on Spotify.