She's no newcomer, you know. And though Margot Smith at first glance falls into the confessional solo singer/songwriter trap, trust me, it's not the case. Taste is not just anemic "love" songs, there is a darkness here. Smith should be familiar to those lucky enough to have bought Church records, since she contributed the odd vocal track or two. Returning the favor on Taste are several Church alumni. Taste is awash in eerie synth washes and ambient guitar, distancing the album from the acoustic guitar snooze I so dread. And do you want to know the best thing about this record? Most of the songs end around the three-minute mark! No song has the chance to get stale or overwrought. It's a refreshingly punk-rock take on the Eighties melancholia that New Order, Psychedelic Furs, Opal, and (duh) the Church peddled. Wait, maybe Smith's voice is the best part of Taste . Light on the bombast, thank you, heavy on the dynamics, I'm thinking of Caroline from This Mortal Coil or Cerys from Catatonia in terms of presence. There's fourteen songs here, and if I didn't really like one, I didn't have to worry about it lasting too long. I'd like to recommend opening track "Hope," because of its gently chiming guitars coupled with venomous deathwishes on an ex-something. The standout piece has to be "2nd Hand Soul," which I can only describe as cabaret lullaby and can only fervently pray that either the Creatures or Bjork decide to cover this song. It always pleases me to see a record like this come out of nowhere.
Phantom Records, PO Box A566, Sydney South, Australia 1235