Wisenheimer – Custard

1995 – RA Records

Alternative/ Pop/ Rock

Today I have turned my little ears towards the darlings of the Brisbane alternative rock scene Custard’s third studio album Wisenheimer, and I have to say that it is really quite good.

The opening track Goofinder is a nice introduction to the band’s upbeat and quirky pop sounds with its jangly guitar, bouncing, funky bass lines and occasional bursts of feedback, and this nice little tune is followed up well by the verging on punk energy of The Golden Age Of Nicotine which only lasts a brief few seconds.

Leisuremaster and Lovemaster, however, fall into the more predictable elements of what one would expect from this kind of indie-rock band. The tracks aren’t really bad, Lovemaster is actually quite nice with its tinges of country, but they are also not particularly good. They just kind of drift along with a comfortable air of providing exactly what people expect. I guess I would say that they come across as more background music than anything I would really spend my time actively listening too, which isn’t on the whole bad, it just leaves me slightly wanting.

Actually, most of this record just slides along without much real interest apart from a few key points. Maybe this is due to the fact that the whole thing is sixteen tracks in total, which is rather long for an album of this style or maybe it just comes down to the fact that Custard, while good, aren’t really all that interesting.

Occasionally, though, the band do break out of their practiced indie-rock mould and into something quite spectacular. Such as in the final bars of Cut Lunch which, after rolling along like any other pop-rock song, bursts into a cavalcade of avant-garde sound reminiscent of Laughing Clowns style jazz-rock, or in I Love The Television which comes across as a joyous ode to both pure pop and all out garage rock.

Really this album is at its best when it abandons its conservative indie pretences and embraces its tendency towards rawness and garage sensibilities. Tracks like A Job In Rock ‘N’ Roll and the wonderfully titled The Synthesizer Is Rapidly Overtaking The Guitar As The Most Popular Instrument In The World do a great job at catching the listeners interest and inviting them to sing along, and they are just so much fun which is a welcome relief from tracks like Columbus and the usual gruelling melancholy of much indie music.

So, my verdict is that Custard’s Wisenheimer is a pretty good album. It’s not great and it doesn’t really capture my imagination in any significant way, but it is quite a bit of fun to let play while I’m driving about the town or doing the housework. It has some rather good tracks on it and it has quite a few rather average tracks, but it doesn’t really have any bad tracks, which is a nice upside. The song-writing is decent and the musicians are competent, but it’s really nothing to write home about, and the scope of music is comfortably broad, but nothing particularly challenging or intriguing. Really this album is just a nicely comfortable piece of work. It doesn’t break any boundaries, but it’s good enough.

RATING: ***/5

One of the better tracks from the album ‘Wisenheimer’ being performed live by Custard


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