February 06, 2022

The Paradise Motel - Flight Paths (1998)

Country: Australia
Genre: Indie Rock
Label Number: INFECT65CD

© 1998 Infectious Records
Paradise Motel's obscurity beyond Australia seemed directly proportional to their brilliance, which makes it all the more of a pity Flight Paths barely has been heard of beyond the group's home country. Though superficially there's a similarity to the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack via Craig Armstrong, there's an emphasis on full-band performance in place of hip-hop arrangements and cutups on many tracks. Main instrumentalist Matthew Aulich will try just about anything that takes his fancy, though, from acoustic guitar to Pro One and back again, all with the aim of creating moody, quietly intense arrangements for lead singer Merida Sussex. Her cool, striking voice definitely helps make the band what they are, delivering lines like "This could last forever" with a blend of hope and utter resignation, while her shifting tones on the crackling country blues-goes-doom-laden stomp of "Dead Beats" is a high point. When the band aims for a completely non-rock mood, as on the strings and beats flow of "Heavy Weather" or member BJ Austin's moment of glory with the Visage-sampling "Caravans," there's almost a hint of the underrated One Dove as well, something defiantly and uniquely beautiful. The use of strings throughout the album -- and from an actual string section at that as opposed to synths, say -- is Flight Paths' secret weapon, the more so because they're used as core parts to develop melody and increase the drama of the songs instead of simply turning up for effect. Check out their use on "Derwent River Star" and especially "Daniel," as powerful and twisted a love song as any recorded during the 1990s. On "Four Degrees," where a low and slow rhythm crawl is offset with a deeply romantic orchestral swell and a touch of electric guitar, the overall effect is practically heartbreaking, while a cover of the Cars' "Drive" turns the cool power ballad impact of the original into a calmer yet even more striking vision.

tags: the paradise motel, flight paths, 1998, flac,

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