It takes a unique band to come up with the idea to put together a concept album that has, as its central theme, the contrast between Albert Einstein’s undoubted intellectual genius and the shortcomings in his personal life.
Adelaide band, The Love Mussels, took the relatively risky leap into the mysterious world of Einstein’s life and mind and, surprisingly, found it to be brimful of classy rock riffs and addictive lyrical hooks.
Whilst this local band have been plying their trade around the traps for decades now, I had not managed to catch them live before. And now, after finally witnessing their tightly honed brand of powerful psychedelic guitar driven rock, I am kicking myself over that fact. These guys really know how to play!
Showcasing their latest album, It’s All Relative (Redux), which features a terrific set of classy songs, the band snapped into life from the opening bars of Space And Time and delivered, from that moment on, a consistently impressive barrage of tunes that contained absolutely no flat spots.
Sharing the limelight out front, Brett Sody and Kym Winter are both wonderful guitarists. Both men can deliver inspired solos, and the contrasting tones of their vintage Gretsch and Gibson guitars enhanced each song wonderfully well. Vocally, they are both strong and emotive singers and their harmonies were note perfect.
The subtle propulsive strength of the rhythm section, flexibly sympathetic to the needs of each song, cannot be understated. Denis Surman’s melodic bass lines contributed to the seemingly effortless complexity of the arrangements, and Liv Bafile’s percussive flair provided the motor that seamlessly drove the band through a variety of musical terrains.
The enigmatic Albert Einstein provided the narrative thread to the show and the songs about his life often took an unexpected focus. For example, the band swung from Driving Mr Albert, which provided a recount of how Einstein’s brain was driven across America in a private vehicle forty years after his death, to delivering a song criticising the man for the poor treatment of his first wife, Mileva.
Whilst the content, on paper could appear to be highbrow and cerebral, the band deliver these songs with just the right amount of black humour and a high degree of musical punch, often reminiscent of the raw power of Neil Young and Crazy Horse circa the Ragged Glory era.
The set did include a broad selection of the band’s earlier songs too and the consistency of the material was quite astonishing. Any decent rock band would die for songs as impulsively riff-ridden as Somebody Get Me A Gun, Political People or Out Of Control, and the slower offerings like B-Grade Movie Star, and Perfect Crime were lyrically perceptive and equally as impressive as the more high octane offerings.
The night closed with a taster from their next album, due in mid-2021, entitled Second Wave – a contemporary song about a less than astute surfer who misconstrues news headlines about the imminent arrival of a ‘second wave’!
One of the best things about the Adelaide Fringe is that it frequently delivers unexpected delights. The Love Mussels – It’s All Relative was a winner on all fronts. The venue was fantastic, the sound mix was pristine, and the band were on top form delivering a set of original songs that, in another space and time, would be blasting out from sound systems everywhere around the globe!
What a treat!
Rating: 5 stars
The Love Mussels – It’s All Relative was performed at Diverse-City, 116 Grote Street, Adelaide as part of the 2021 Adelaide Fringe.