Album Reviews

Powderfinger – Vulture Street

(Universal) UK release date: 20 October 2003

Powderfinger - Vulture Street

For this, their fifth album, Brisbane rockers Powderfinger have opted for a visceral live feel, adding a real punch to songs that are, by any standards, far removed from your standard rock and roll fare. Take Since You’ve Been Gone, a bluesy strut strongly reminiscent of the late-lamented Free at the top of their game. Written by Bernard Fanning about the death of his brother from cancer, its raw emotional power is offset by beautifully controlled instrumental work and some particularly fine lead guitar lines.

How Far Have We Really Come? also stands out as an understated examination of our uncertain, post 9/11 world and deserves to be taken up as an anthem for a generation being blindly led into wars they neither want nor understand. For all the seriousness of these two, especially outstanding, tracks, the band haven’t forgotten how to have fun. Don’t Panic has uncanny echoes of Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie, while the latest single (Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind is an unashamed full-tilt rocker.

Light and shade is provided by the delicate acoustic ballad Love You Way, which sounds like Roy Harper in one of his more lucid moments, and Pockets, which could almost be an outtake from Led Zeppelin 3, right down to the slightly distorted vocal – one of the few production gimmicks on an album that is admirable in its simple, direct approach.

Much credit for this must go to producer Nick Di Dia, who has an impressive track record, including Papa Roach, and Pearl Jam. Needless to say he has contributed to an album that’s a quantum leap from its rather passionless predecessor, Odyssey Number Five. Even the album’s rather less inspired moments – the lumbering Sunsets and aptly named Stumblin’ – have a certain earthy appeal.

The album closer A Song Called Everything, is an attempt at a stadium anthem that doesn’t quite come off. At least it doesn’t outstay its welcome, which rather goes for the album as a whole. Quite the reverse in fact.

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Powderfinger – Vulture Street