8 out of 10
by Jason MacNeil - Pop Matters, 3 November 2006
Four Hours Sleep is a very capable Australian outfit that makes very crisp and credible adult contemporary pop. A song like "I Know I Shouldn't (But I Can't Help Myself)", with Frente's Angie Hart on lead vocals, has all the hallmarks of a reply to a Pulp number. Hart returns later on for an impressive roots number "Goodbye Song" that brings to mind The Waifs or Be Good Tanyas. But the band, which is the brainchild of Bill McDonald who has worked with Frente and Neneh Cherry among others, is just as fine delivering great, infectious pop as it does during "I Love That Woman" featuring Charles Jenkins on lead vocals. Meanwhile, "Who Ya Gonna Love?" resembles a U2 b-side as Stephen Cummings sings like that Bono fellow. This veering between pop and roots/folk is a key ingredient to the album's success, with another charmer Nick Cave-ish "Original Lover" glistening from start to finish as does the rowdier "Very Strange, Very Cool". Another highlight is the Dylan-ish "If I Had My Way" with Paul Kelly on lead vocals. On the whole it's an album you'd enjoy even if you had two hours sleep let alone four.
by Daniel Crichton-Rouse - (in Time Off?) 2006
From the luscious, atmospheric vocals of Angie Hart in the stunning opening track 'I Know I Shouldn't (But I Can't Help Myself)' the first Four Hours Sleep record in ten years is as perfect as you could hope a pop record could be. Songwriter Bill McDonald has taken his love of soundtracks (particularly The Insider and Lost in Translation) and created his own imaginary soundtrack to our urban Australian summer. Joined again by Dan and Peter Luscombe, and calling on vocal duties from friends Hart, Charles Jenkins, Stephen Cummings, Ollie Olsen and Paul Kelly, Love Specifies combines samples such as rain and trains with richly evocative songwriting (from rock to pop to country) to create one of 2006's finest records. Other highlights include the ambient 'Train's Comin' and 'Original Lover' (featuring Olsen) which, combined, make for a personal and heartfelt nostalgic journey. Buy it. You won't regret it.
5 out of 6
While Four Hours Sleep is his latest project, Bill McDonald is by no means a newcomer in the world of music. He has previously either been in or has been involved with a variety of bands including (but not limited to) Frente, Ultrasound, Neneh Cherry, and Michelle Shocked. Rather than allowing himself or his music to be easily categorized or pigeonholed, Bill seems driven by the desire to write and record high quality music. That said, some may be surprised how commercial and accessible many of the tunes on Love Specifics are. This isn't a mere artsy outing where all listeners are bound to get lost. In satisfying his own desires, McDonald also keeps his listeners in mind...creating hummable, catchy tunes that are easy on the mind as well as the ears. But while the proceedings are, for the most part, hummable and smooth...Bill manages to incorporate plenty of surprises along the way. Just when you think you know what to expect, something subtle comes from left of center. By balancing the familiar with the abstract, McDonald and his friends have managed to come up with an album that is both familiar and just slightly strange in subtle ways. Thirteen tracks here including "I Know I Shouldn't," "Goodbye Song," "Very Strange, Very Cool," and "That's OK."