Verdict: Local airwave favourites push the boat out on third album
When, a few years ago, Opshop found themselves with problems entering Britain, I'd thought Her Majesty's Customs had been put on alert.
Not for anything too rock 'n' roll. Just that the Coldplay and U2 trademark infringements of their first albums had finally caught up with the band. And now the EU was now enforcing import restrictions on songs with crystalline guitars, earnest lyrics and whoa-oh verbal hooks out of protectionism for Bono, Chris Martin and co. ("And when you chaps get back to the colonies, you lads be sure to tell that Evermore they're on our list too, right?").
Of course, Opshop did get into Britain eventually. Some of Until The End of Time was recorded there with Welsh producer Greg Haver, who was also behind the band's previous album, Second Hand Planet. His widescreen work on albums by the Manic Street Preachers, among others, is influential here.
Yes, it does still possess a certain U2-ness throughout.
Though that title doesn't have a song to go with it, which saves it being filed alongside the Dublin-ites' own Until The End of the World.
It's an album grand of scope and vast of sound and, via frontman Jason Kerrison, fervently heart-on-sleeve.
It even contains a sermon - Paradox is an adaptation of The Paradox of Our Age, written by Dr Bob Moorehead.
A once-popular Seattle pastor, he reportedly resigned after allegations of sexual impropriety. Still, he sure had a way with a homily: "We've got faster foods but slower digestion," observes singer Kerrison on one of the twitchy electronic verses before unleashing the whoa-ohs once again.
But curiously Until The End of Time's sense of earnestness, even when borrowed, is not deadly.
Maybe because in the five-song blast from opener and single Pins and Needles through to Madness & Other Allergies it hardly lets up from one towering chorus to another.
Second song Love Will Always Win might be lyrically guileless but it's hard not to celebrate the sentiment the way it's delivered here - pretty much as one of best U2 songs U2 never wrote.
On Madness & Other Allergies, the buzzy synthesisers and fuzzy guitars suggest this as something retro-futuristic in the vein of Shihad's great General Electric album.
All of which might be quite alarming for those who came to Opshop through the ad jingle-friendly likes of One Day.
The slow melancholy melodies songs do arrive though. Mostly around the album's centrepoint with the nightmare pop of Monsters Under The Bed, the Finn-esque love letter The Fine Mess We're In, and One Day getting a couple of possible sequels in Sunday's Best Clothes, the piano ballad of Everything To Someone and Nowhere Fast.
And just when it's maybe lasted one down-tempo song too many, All For You chugs past, sounding like a hot-rod take on the New Wave pop of the Cars before Clarity brings things to an anthemic close.
It's a big production number throughout, this one. And its sonic sheen and sincerity is just going to reinforce their status as the era's band of the people (but not the critics).
But it's still a terrific album - and definitely export quality.By Russell Baillie @RBaillieNZH Email Russell