Album Review: Knievel - Emerald City

10 October 2012 | 11:13 am | Brendan Telford

Knievel, it’s good to have you back.

Emerald City is the fifth album from Sydney four-piece Knievel, and despite its decade-long gestation period, the record picks up where 2002's No One's Going To Understand In My Way left off and runs with it. The quartet is in fine form, with the music crystalline and sonorous, painting their hometown in a swathe of rich sounds that echoes from those earlier days.

Opening with Through The Rainbow Dark, an ode to the fine line between alienation and opportunity when in a strange city, the warm tones of ringleader Wayne Connolly's voice are ably backed by Tracey Ellis' vocals and smooth basslines. Things become even more familiar on The Time I Found My Feet, a pop track that's quintessentially Antipodean in nature – finding that juxtaposition in exuberance and whimsy and infusing it with sunny disposition and an uplifting lilt that transcends genre – and an album standout. It also highlights the fact that pop songs like this that used to litter the Australian musical landscapes of the '80s and early-'90s are now few and far between.

Elsewhere there are moments of darker urgency such as on Will Into Being, yet the majority of Emerald City maintains that languid drift infused with sunlight that's an undeniably Australian musical trope. It's this sense of familiarity and recognition that is the album's trump card, yet it smartly refuses to veil the potency of the songs with nostalgia. Connolly's reveries on growing up, the search for a soul mate and golden opportunities are beguiling, proving that albums such as these are missed not because of their time and place but because of their timelessness. Knievel, it's good to have you back.