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Live Review: Strange Talk, Phebe Starr

9 April 2013 | 4:36 pm | Izzy Tolhurst

The music is confident and tight; Gillan Gregory’s guitar solos are particularly impressive.

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Brisbane five-piece Pigeon and Sydney gal Phebe Starr – both of whom are recipients of significant triple j airtime and highly sought-after festival and support slots – are appropriately selected supports. However, the latter's set starts a little shakily, and while pleasantly ambient and ethereal, there is an absence of concrete structure. But as Starr progresses there is far less disjoint, more self-assurance and a voice with tremendous power and range is unveiled.

Strange Talk's show, one of nine around Australia, celebrates the launch of their debut album, Cast Away, which is played in full by the four-piece. Prior to touring the album nationally, Strange Talk have enjoyed considerable career highlights abroad, including playing New York's 2012 CMJ Music Marathon and shooting music videos in the Mojave Desert. Likening their sound to the beguiling melodies of bands such as Foster The People, Empire Of The Sun and Cut Copy, songs from the new album – particularly Falling In Love and Cast Away – are both upbeat and catchy and therefore true of such a comparison. An elaborate light show accompanies Strange Talk's set and while it certainly suits the high-energy music and show, it seems a little 'tits-on-a-bull' given the band are touring their first album. Closing with the song that got them where we are today, Strange Talk thank the crowd with a playful and unwaveringly enthusiastic rendition of Climbing Walls. Hoards take pleasure out of this set, indulging in the band's extravagance and dancing their little hearts out, so a few grains of praise are surely warranted.

Setting out with a vision to “play the best fucking show [they've] ever played” for their hometown, electro-pop (or “electronic soft rock,” as lead man Steve Docker calls it) team Strange Talk certainly give everything, but after the proverbial dust settles and the ostentatious lights dim, there's still the palpable feeling that often it's the subtler, humbler moments that make a concert fucking tremendous. There's a lot of ego crammed onto that small stage, but credit must be doled out where it's due: the music is confident and tight; Gillan Gregory's guitar solos are particularly impressive.