Loon Lake – Not Just Friends

With Melbourne five-piece Loon Lake, it’s a classic case of what you see being what you get – and aesthetics are the least of their worries. This is a band that’s rocking t-shirts and board shorts when their contemporaries are determined to prove just how “tribal” and “out-there” they can look. They not only choose guitar over the rebirth of the synthesizer, but they go for three of the suckers. You’re more likely to find them rocking a sticky-floored pub than sweating it out with munted festival punters. In short, they are the antithesis of anything and everything that Australian indie rock currently defines as being “cool” – and they are all the better off for it.

Not Just Friends is a short and sweet collection of summery jangle pop that’s almost instantly accessible and scarcely forgettable – an impressive debut, with considerable lasting quality. One of the first aspects of More Than Friends you’re likely to notice is just how natural the songs themselves sound. A vital facet of guitar-based rock that is often overlooked is the simple notion that it sounds like a live band, and Loon Lake have taken great consideration of this. It’s a little cleaner than a demo recording, but still manages to maintain the feel of the quintet jamming out these tunes in their garage. It’s unpretentious and charming – and this description can certainly be continued into the songs themselves.

In the Summer is an upbeat swing, instrumentally sounding like a cut from Is This It with its chirpy lead guitar and simple boom-thwack rhythm; while Wine notches up the tempo and develops more of a Kinks-y groove. However, the stand-out has to be Into The Office from the swaggering triple-guitar build-up at its beginning to the extended chorus jam near its end. It also works on two different levels – the first being that it’s a sizzling pop-rock number with plentiful hooks and killer guitar melodies; but the other being that it’s also a fairly devastating retelling of a man’s unemployment costing him practically everything in his life. Dancing like a maniac on one listen and feeling pity for the poor bastard protagonist in another is certainly an odd combination, but it works significantly in the band’s favour.

Gripes with the EP are few, but when they arise they’re more than likely to do with the three-guitar situation. It’s not a bad thing on its own but it’s what the band does with it that can grow slightly grating. Nearly every song features one of the guitars simply following the vocal melody note-for-note, adding nothing to the song itself. This is fine in some parts – it works quite well in the chorus of In the Summer, for instance – but to feature it on every single track on the EP presents a minor gripe, with the suggestion that perhaps the band finds something a little more interesting for their extra guitarist to do. As mentioned, however, it can be seen as a minor setback on what is clearly a solid release.