After three years Brisbane indie-rockers Last Dinosaurs have finally delivered their sophomore album Wellness. The follow up to Last Dinosaurs 2012 breakthrough effort In A Million Years comes after some serious growth and development for the band, with bass player Sam Gethin-Jones’ departure definitely changing the dynamic of the group. Then came extended radio silence before the re-addition of Michael Sloane, who was their original bassist and directed the music videos for several of the songs on In A Million Years. The guys then spent a decent chunk of time touring overseas before getting back in the studio with Scott Horscroft who had previously worked with the likes of Silverchair and Empire Of The Sun to record Wellness.
The album itself is an incredibly polished and well-rounded piece of work from the boys. For those familiar their debut LP, there isn’t anything on this record to surprise or shock you. If there were to be any criticisms they would only come about because this new album follows a formula not dissimilar to that of In A Million Years. However any such thoughts would be short sighted as it is in the subtle developments of their style and growing polish on an already successful formula that makes this record so good.
The first track that was released, Evie, almost sounds like it could be a variation on I Can’t Decide, with its catchy melody and Lachy Caskey’s guitar licks penetrating through even the densest sections of the track to generate recognisability. It’s hard to overstate how reliant the band is on the prodigious and raw talent of the younger Caskey brother on lead guitar. His sound is already starting to border on iconic, being consistently gorgeous and pleasing in its simplicity.
Take Your Time is one of the tracks on the album that really makes the most of glittering guitar effects, with delay and echoey affected guitar techniques supplementing Caskey’s magnificent exploration of melodic chord structure. Don’t get the idea that the guys are shying away from rougher rock-standard guitar stuff though. Take Your Time is the first track on the album and poignantly signposts what’s to come by exploring a combination of cosmic echo, rock riffs, dominant sections of bass, varying intensities of percussion and Caskey’s full range.
Caskey’s lyric material continues to develop and improve with every effort, but he hasn’t left behind his typically emotion-filled and contemplative lyrics that create such a unique contrast with the generally quite up-beat instrumentals. Karma is one of many tunes where Caskey’s lyrics are relatable yet meaningful, "I don’t want to say goodbye, but I need you in my life". Always is another track that goes similarly deep, with repeating lyrics like ‘If only you could feel this with me’ that compliment driving instrumentals and an epic, elongated altered harmonics guitar solo.
The guys haven’t lost the raw quality of their early work; with Purist a strong riff-driven track in its purest, catchiest, most Last Dino-est form. Evie and Zero are both in this category as well; just super feel-good, classic up-beat indie rock that we’ve come to love from the guys. Those expecting a follow up on a sonic journey similar to that provided by Satellites on their last LP will be happy to hear that the title track Wellness is just the ticket.
Wurl is one of the most different and contrasting tracks on the album. Drummer Dan Koyama’s superlative skills are often limited by the simplicity of the style that Last Dinosaurs create music within, but on Wurl we really get a chance to see his versatility. The track itself is one of the best examples of how the band has grown, whereas the guys normally stick to the same guitar effects Wurl utilises the largest range of sound sources and timbres of any of their tracks to date.
There isn’t anything ground-breaking about Wellness. Rather it is simply the latest step in the evolution of a band who have consistently been typecast as having huge potential. Wellness is as much about proving that the success of their first album wasn’t a fluke as it is about showing that they’ve grown as a group who are still super young. This LP is proof that Last Dinosaurs are really starting to lock into their touted potential as songwriters, as a means of supplementing their well-documented skillset as a live act.
EIGHT OUT OF TEN
Last Dinosaurs' Wellness is out Friday, 28th August.