Like Marty McFly at the high school dance in Back to the Future, Ed Castelow has beamed himself back to crucial touchstones in pop-rock (classic 50s chords, Beatles-era choruses, 70s power pop, 80s stadium rock) and distilled them into this shamelessly enjoyable collection that is smart enough to play spot-the-reference but also stands proudly in its own right.
From an alphabet of influences (Badfinger, Beatles, Big Star and Boston for starters), Dictaphone Blues deliver songs that are as enjoyable as the Glitter Band (the echoed stomp of What Happened to Our Love?), frighteningly intense (the Oasis-cum-Indo-rock psychedelics of Spicy Fruit Loaf), as catchy as bubblegum (Friends Need Friends) and allow for Springsteen-scale lighter-waving (Shake a Leg). My Girl Anymore and What You Wanted You Got could have been hits in any decade since Elvis, and Dwight Twilley called to say he wants his Buddy Holly/echoplex style back (Burning Ball from Outer Space).
With widescreen production Phil Spector might admire, hooks big enough to land swordfish, half-familiar melodies, and cannoning drums behind stacked-up jangle guitars and sweeping synth-strings, this is a sheer delight and only the hardest heart won't be amused, seduced and delighted. A splendid time had by all ... and it's infectious. Like great pop-rock should be.
Verdict: Classic pop-rock elements isolated, mixed up and served with relish.
Buy this album here.
-TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz