Saskwatch return after 2012’s universally acclaimed debut Leave it All Behind with their richer and more diverse sophomore record Nose Dive.
Counter-intuitive to the band’s trajectory, the title serves as a commentary on life’s highs and lows – themes which are continuously explored throughout the record. Nose Dive encapsulates Saskwatch’s scintillating live show whilst further refining their sound through building ballads and heart-wrenching lyricism. With this release, the Melbourne nine-piece will shake the tag of ‘promising young act’ and redefine themselves as a whole.
Crisp and deliberate production punctuates Nose Dive. Saskwatch spent three weeks recording with Lachlan ‘Magoo’ Goold at his coveted church-converted Applewood Lane Studios in rural Queensland. Three weeks felt like a marathon when compared to the three days they spent recording Leave it All Behind. It enabled time for Saskwatch to reflect on the significance of the album and give full attention whilst in the apparent isolation. Their devotion to Nose Dive is obvious as nothing is left wanting. Every note, every brass lick, every word is considered and delivered with confident perfection. Combining the labours of love and hard work has given an authentic sound to Nose Dive that has been brilliantly translated through the mixing desk.
Nose Dive has been crafted from hours of rehearsal squeezed around an hectic touring schedule. This has allowed Saskwatch to take hold of their own sound adding depth and sincerity whilst still being able to react to a live audience. Their growing fan base will be subtly pointed in the direction Saskwatch want them to go and they will not be disappointed. Whether stomping the feet to ‘Give Me a Reason’ or sympathising during, ‘Left Me to Die’ the album contains a song for every occasion.
Extensive touring over the past eighteen months has also exposed Saskwatch to more bands than in the past. This has encouraged them to move past any ‘soul band’ stigma that they may have subconsciously been held down by and organically develop their distinctive compositions. Nose Dive has greater influence on the rhythm section as the frontline trumpets and saxophones often take a back seat. This only increases the impact of the frontline when it busts through the lead guitar. Audiences have been transfixed by recent live renditions of ‘Tomorrow’s Promises’ and ‘A Love Divine’.
There are, of course, the dance anthems for which Saskwatch are so renowned. Lead single ‘Hands’ is an unabashed up-tempo hip-moving hit that has garnered an impressive amount of radio play and internet hype. Funky guitar rhythms, and a floor shaking baritone saxophone mixed with punchy vocals are found on ‘Keep Me In Mind’. ‘Born to Break Your Heart’ is sung with such a sweet tone that one wonders if Nkechi Anele is capable of anything so cruel.
Emotional diversity is what makes Nose Dive such a complete record. The listener will be tapping their feet moments before being captivated by Saskwatch’s tight, mature sound. There are moments of unconventional genius when clean brass lines are mixed with fuzzy guitar reverb and delay. There are beautiful vocals that turn to frighteningly dark accusations in the space of four minutes. Saskwatch are able to alter one’s mood in an instant which is a power they rightfully exploit on Nose Dive.
Nose Dive makes full use of Saskwatch’s excellent musicianship. The song’s structures are near faultless as they instantly engage the listener with broad dynamic range, enchanting instrumental breakdowns, and impressively warm vocals. Obviously talented musicians, the band are able to support the dominant emotive lyrics with skilful arrangements that are showcased on each contrasting track.
Unconstrained by the title of Australia’s most exciting soul band, Saskwatch have been able to craft a second album that ensures they live up to expectations. Nose Dive is as harrowing as it is vibrant and adds depth to the band’s energetic repertoire. Saskwatch’s latest offering will be unlike any other local release in 2014 as is marries traditional soul sounds with modern atmospheric rock in an unforgettable blend. There is no prejudice or any sign of over reaching, just a big band playing what they want to play, and what we want to hear.