Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders – review

jack ladder

For the past three weeks I’ve mulled this album over, and the conclusion can only be that Playmates is a timely, intelligent, and incredibly well-needed album for Australian rock in 2014.

Three years since Hurtsville, Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders have delivered a highly considered album that could also be argued as their most original. Gone are the dark and misty homage ballads of Hurtsville, here lays an album that’s soul has been stretched beyond melancholy, and laid bare to crackling, pulsating energy of new electronic elements. There’s an industrial anger in the album that highlights Kirin J. Callinan’s influence in the group, particularly in the first half. Again with Ladder (and also with Callinan’s solo work), there’s a strange tone of male Australian unease, and with Playmates, the mood is more volatile in its desperation.

Images of islands made for one, and detached, searching characters make up the narrative, and with a spattering of everything good about the 80s (synth pop, new wave, art rock) and new heavier guitar riffs, Ladder has created a looming universe that hangs around after the album’s conclusion.

For any Sharon Van Etten fans out there, you’ll be pleased to note two feature appearances whose cathartic vocal style is always a heart-wrenching pleasure. Overall, this album is a good indicator of the possibilities of contemporary Australian music. Considering the new stylistic step Playmates has taken, it’s difficult to know where Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders will go next.