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Eleven years since they formed and The Bamboos are no “best kept secret” anymore, but they’re no superstars either. The quality of their live show has always told us they deserve to be and their records have always been impressive representations of what they deliver, but with Medicine Man, there’s a worry they might be seeking mainstream acknowledgement a little more than we’d like.
Daniel Merriweather is uninspiring on I Never, giving Megan Washington an easier chance to win us over with the incredibly poppy Eliza. It’s at this stage it becomes worrying that the output of founder, guitarist, songwriter and musical director Lance Ferguson is starting to crossover. He’s still a fine songwriter and the band literally sound faultless, but now he’s making them into a lush, complex indie-pop group, not the deep funk powerhouse they have always been.
Kylie Auldist’s return in Cut Me Down is comforting, she still handles vocals for a good third of the record, but it’s not enough. Her four songs are the four best on the album. One time Idol contestant Bobby Flynn sounds like he’s really putting in – it feels like he has most to gain here – while You Am I’s Tim Rogers gets one of the best songs here in I Got Burned, but his voice just doesn’t sound like it suits, and elsewhere American star Aloe Blacc’s croon is cool, but the song is limp.
This might be one of the better pop records Australia will produce this year and maybe it will give The Bamboos that success they still deserve, but it’s a bit sad to see the band’s hold on soul fading into the distance on these tracks.
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