It almost doesn’t seem quite right that this is only Peabody’s third full-length album. The band have been going for more than a decade and are seemingly quite solid stalwarts on Sydney’s stages. Yet since their 2002 debut, have only managed an album roughly every three years. Prospero is certainly well worth the wait though.
Peabody – not surprisingly for a mid-nineties Australian band – started out as a guitar-bass-drum three piece. The next incarnation of the band saw not only a new recruit in the drumming stool – Jared
Harrison of Bluebottle Kiss fame – but also the addition of a second guitarist; Tristian Courtney-Prior.
From seeing them play live around the traps over the past couple of years, it is fair to say Peabody took a while to settle into their new four-piece incarnation. The ten tracks assembled on Prospero prove it was time well spent. Peabody could always be relied upon for some punchy, parochial pub rock, of which the first single off the album,_ Devil For Sympathy_, is a sterling example of. However, the additional guitar and new influences have given them a denser and deeper sound than the early days.
While as a three-piece, Peabody’s songs came full throttle as though they were in a hurry to be somewhere, but the new line up allows a bit more space and breathing room for the music. Prospero, although recorded in a brisk and beery five days in mid-2007, seems much more thought out and carefully assembled than Peabody’s previous exploits. The touch and guidance of producer Jamie Hutchings of Bluebottle Kiss – known for the odd brooding, sprawling epic themselves – has helped for some more expansive musical ideas to be bought to the table.
There are lashings of harmonies, tambourines and hand-claps used for trimmings but the big difference is that the songs themselves are propelled by more slow-burning riffs and built up layers of noise, rather than instruments just allowed to let rip. You could even accuse album closer – the six-and a half minute Sweet Oblivion -of being epic.
In addition to the increased musical maturity you get an emotional insight and lament in the lyrical mix. For both the band and their listeners seeing in the sunrise at the Townie may not always seem as appealing as it once did in the face of the reality, responsibilities and proper adult relationships.
Don’t fret though; those of the young male, excessive alcohol favouring persuasion are well catered for with the melodic-throttling blasts of Buzzard Vs Ibis and The Only Way I Know .Prospero is a confident and assured step forward for Peabody in that there is an awful lot more musical and lyrical depth to really listen to, not just sing-along to. It’s still cheeky, but also well considered and raucous without being too raw. It could well be the first step on the path to very Prospero-us times ahead for Peabody