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Good Bones

by Michael Dwyer - The Age (Melbourne) - 6 August 2010

4 stars

"No irony, no agony, whole lotta soul," is the fine-print promise on Stephen Cummings' new acoustic stocktake. His first, Close Ups, revisited most of his best-known Sports and solo singles, though some spill over here: distilled versions of Reckless and What Did The Detective Say? represent his early polarities of heartsick cafe-window daydreaming and street-punk soul - as well as his genius for loaded titles. And check this goose-flesh chorus for noir storytelling economy: "Long legs short memory/black stockings for Chelsea". Thirty-five years of hindsight brings huge affection to Vampire Girl and Hot Dog, and Cummings' feel for teenaged drive-in ballads - Missing The Kissing, One Kiss - can only ring more sweetly melancholy every time they pass his lips. With an ear for the weird note in every chord, Billy Miller and Shane O'Mara build swamps and clouds with artfully blended guitar tones and minimal percussion while Cummings lets his ever-slackening drawl unravel to find its own rhythms and meanings. Do look back. Some songs are wasted on the young.

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