Nick Bollinger reviews the expat-pop of London-based Kiwis The Eversons.
When a New Zealand band goes overseas, their departure is usually followed by a long silence, as though the world had simply swallowed them up. It had been a bit like that with The Eversons, until just before Christmas when their second album turned up like a message in a bottle.
The Wellington-then-Auckland-now-London-based quartet have called the album Stuck In New Zealand, but on first hearing there is little to indicate its links to this part of the world, geographic references notwithstanding. (One song, ‘Emily’, situates the protagonist on Dominion Road, but the riff has echoes of the band Boston).
Their influences stretch from 60s bubblegum to 70s classic rock to modern Max Martin-style mega-hooks. The decades all get smooshed together in The Eversons’ blender. What comes out is a kind of super-pop thick shake.
What particularly distinguishes The Eversons among New Zealand bands is the singing styles of their alternating frontmen Mark Turner and Chris Young. As vocalists, they create exaggerated versions of themselves, playing out the plights of their characters in extravagant almost-satirical gestures. Listen to the state of near-hysteria Mark Turner works himself up to as he rails against everyone and everything in a song he calls ‘Generation Wimp’.
The persona that both Turner and Young default to is that of the frustrated, testosterone-driven twenty-something guy who has either been rejected by, or is in the process of rejecting, some usually (but not always) nameless female. They earned themselves a public shaming a few years back when someone stepped forward to complain that they recognised themselves in one of their songs; a song about a jilted lover whose girlfriend leaves him and becomes a prostitute. (They may or may not be referencing the incident in a song here called ‘Good At Making Enemies’). But if they have avoided a repeat of such controversy, there is still some sort of sex war raging in songs like ‘It’s A Trap’ and ‘Tease’ - the latter having a tune just bittersweet enough to make you feel some sympathy for the singer.
Best to hear Stuck In New Zealand as a big pop cartoon. It may deal in stereotypes, but always delivers them with a big smiling hook.
Songs featured: London City Song, Emily, Give Me More, Generation Wimp, It’s A Trap, Tease, Baby You’re A Jerk.
Stuck in New Zealand is available on Lil’ Chief Records.