Eskimo Joe: Black Fingernails, Red Wine

By Rebecca Barry Hill

Herald rating: * * *

Aussie rockers Eskimo Joe have been plugging away since 1997 but it wasn't until Black Fingernails, Red Wine entered the New Zealand charts (number 14 this week) that most of us realised they weren't from Alaska after all.

They certainly don't sound like your typical pub-rock band from across the ditch. There's a melancholy about them that puts them closer to Coldplay than Cold Chisel.

The guitars are deep and heavy on the reverb. The lyrics are serious - check London Bombs and Suicide Girl. And the piano plays a big part in the windswept drama of their sound.

This is their third album, and if you're a fan of the mysterious first single, you'll find much to brood over here. This is dark, elegant but accessible rock.

Individually there's a moody beauty about the songs but as a collection, they sound as though they come from the same template. Most start in a minor key and are decorated with predictable piano motifs.

Although it's tastefully done, it's not easy to warm to Eskimo Joe, who remain an icy distance from their listeners.

Label: Warner

Eskimo Joe play Big Day Out '07 on the Blue Stage

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