Sydney’s own Oxford Poet has adopted reverie to refer to the wild, crazed delirium that their brand of classic, crunchy and psychedelic rock epitomizes. The ingredients are all that you’d expect from a group that took their time to hone a sound colorful enough to attract the attention of a top notch producer like Ben Hayward. The result is an organic and spellbinding effort, combining the talents of a sensational singer, floating rhythm section and skilled guitarists. Reverie is five tracks that display enough variation and memorability to never stagnate when the needle is reset again and again on this brief but rewarding experience.
Stylistically I hear shades of Jeff Buckley, especially in the voice, those moments when frontman Alex Carlo-Stella goes high and pushes against the slashing guitars and battering drums. There’s a psychedelic element found throughout from effected guitars, delays and plane-takeoff flangers; times when the onslaught ebbs and a heady bass groove mixes with shimmering guitar melodies and cymbals to give a slight high; the outro of “What’s Inside” provides a great example.
The drum grooves that begin “Surprise Of The Light” and “Trigger” are an excellent transition/songcraft technique that has a storied history from Buddy Rich to Glenn Kotche of Wilco and highlight Liam Robson’s pocket.
The guitars are noteworthy; James Hill and Connor Davies cook up the aforementioned Tame Impala trippyness but also deliver time worn Zeppelin riffs, a surf rock pastiche that’s straight Tarantino, face melting hard rock leads and swampy arpeggios. Their work is a crucial element to the band’s overall feeling of virtuosity, and their layers and progressions define these songs more than any other.
The indie rock closer “What’s Inside” is an example of both the best and worst from this project: the song is great, the performances and arrangement are jammy; the mix drops the ball here though, offering less cohesion then the previous tracks demonstrated. Whether it’s the byproduct of dipping into a different genre is only speculation, but even so the band’s tight playing and strong melodies keep this one afloat in its murky waters.
I loved Reverie. It reminded me of the prospects of guitar driven music in 2018, and features a singer with a great timbre and a lot to say. They fit in nicely with the now world renowned rock revival occurring in Australia and could be posed to succeed not just on their continent, but internationally one day.