Ok, here goes, the last review of the year and then I’m going to get a week of rest before 2021 kicks into gear.
With one great album from Pop Filter on the books for 2020, the second only seems like a bit of a year end gift. The band, which pivoted from their previous incarnation as The Ocean Party following the tragic passing of member Zac Denton, brings a more subdued set that might actually fit better under their previous moniker. The record is certainly dredging up some of the raw heart feelings that The Ocean Party often toyed with. While Banksia found joy even in times of turmoil, Donkey Gully Road is the faded flannel underside to that record. The songs here hit like sighs, as if the first album was putting on a brave front but with the second they’ve let the pop veneer slide to better heal through melancholy saunter. Like their days in The Ocean Party, the band don’t force hooks forward on DGR, but instead let them work their way under the skin with a subtle twist of the knife.
There’s a feeling of last call hovering around the album — a walk out into the streetlights that’s concurrent with the nagging feeling of not wanting to go home. That said, the album’s not as downer as I’m making it out to be. Its comforting all the same, ambling and finding an inner peace somewhere between the pangs that hit the heart without warning. By the end they’re even back to their almost upbeat selves, with the plucky swing of “Checkin’ Out” wiping a few tears from the eyes. This record feels more like a companion piece to Banksia than a standalone follow-up, and with the close proximity it might be well to treat it as such. Both records work as a cypher to opening the other up more fully — a pop choose your own adventure worth embarking on to be sure.
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