Topping the pop world in the 1996 Triple J Hottest 100, 13 years later Spiderbait drummer and bloke about town Kram has released his debut solo album Mix Tape. Wide reaching, self indulgent and often hilarious, it’s also irresistibly catchy and kind of touching.
As its ironic and nostalgic title suggests, Mix Tape is a tribute to Kram’s great musical loves and his own musical past. Many of the tracks have a hint of Spiderbait’s most successful singles Buy Me A Pony and Black Betty, but the whole concept of the solo album rests on the notion of freedom, and Kram really goes for it in this solo endeavor. Not only does the CD sleeve include his own logo, but the Warholish cover portrait also brings to mind that great benchmark of kitsch self indulgence, the KISS solo albums. It’s no mistake that Kram’s soul patch in this portrait also looks like a slightly askew heart, a nod to the honesty at play here and a real attention to detail.
The CD is front-loaded with tracks, like first single Silk Suits, that sound a bit like something from your older brother’s record collection that you can’t quite put your finger on. Like a good mix tape though, it’s when it starts to quieten down that it starts to intrigue, and the group of songs at its centre have an open-hearted, sun-kissed loveliness.
Harmonies is all foreplay, a series of escalating melodic fills that wisely crescendo before a word is spoken. Satellites is even better, just big, dumb fun and the kind of killer Bowie come-on that the Scissor Sisters would bitch slap to get their hands on. Won’t Be Home Tonight seems to take its lead from another singing drummer in the form of the ‘great’ Peter Criss and his hit ballad Beth, but up-ends its ridiculous central conceit of choosing band time over a partner. It’s a neat mission statement, because for all its winking and foot stomping Mix Tape is coming from a place of love (man).
Derivative is often used like it’s a dirty word, but in a pure sense it simply suggests recognising and incorporating influences: arguably the core premise of the mix tape (and Mix Tape). Mix Tape is never less than fun; in fact, to paraphrase another Spiderbait classic, the best moments are freakin’ awesome.
Kram – Mix Tape is out now through Universal.