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Sneeze | Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll (Half A Cow)
It's been along wait for the follow up, almost 8 years in fact, since the release of Sneeze's self-titled debut, which comprised an extraordinary 41 songs in 47 minutes and was recorded after the band adopted the admirable manifesto "If ya can't do it in two minutes it ain't worth doin'." Best known for their work on the Lemonheads' 'It's A Shame About Ray' and 'Come On Feel The Lemonheads', Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan have spent the last 3 years recording 'Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll' which is probably their best work to date. Whilst admittedly never taking themselves too seriously, they have dispensed with the rigid two minute rule, there is actually more depth to many of the songs here than the occasionally frivolous veneer might suggest. Drawing on the additional experience and diversity of an extensive line up of musical support including half of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the album is deeply infused with the sounds of 70s soul music to which both Dalton and Morgan were extensively exposed on the band's last US tour. Brass arrangements, lush strings, mock falsetto vocals and somewhat tongue in cheek lyrics all add up to a winning formula. Opener Wu-Li asks with some charm "Where was I when you needed me?" having already deduced "We could've been contented, we could've been contenders." You Am I drummer Russell Hopkinson can be found keeping a low key backbeat on the call and response, ever so slightly cheesy, yet irresistible Doctor Of Love. The bold brass on (You're Not) The 'Onely One, Lara Meyerratken's lovely guest vocal on (Don't Go) Distant, the Hammond organ driven Maybe Moving In Together Wasn't Such A Good Idea, the layered psychedelia of the Mazzy Star like Casual Cashew Daddy are all worth singling out for specific praise. As often sad and reflective as it is whimsical and funny, Sneeze may have 'Lost The Spirit To Rock & Roll', but the Jackson 5 meets indie pop in an alternative dimension experiment they've found in its place is undoubtedly a worthwhile and extremely entertaining diversion until they find it again.

Geraint Jones
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002