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Time Off (Brisbane), April 1997

Post-teen Sensations

Every once and a while, you come across an album that strikes a chord somewhere deep inside your brain from the very first note.

Often, you'll find yourself listening to it day in day out for weeks on end. Albums such as The Stone Roses, Automatic For The People or Nevermind. They go on to be classics, sitting proudly in your record collection, in-between the wannabes and the try-hards.

Melbourne band The Earthmen have produced such an album. Called Love Walked In, it has the songs, the sounds and the essence of a classic release. Quite frankly, it could well be one of the best Australian releases of the last few years. And what's more, their gig at The Zoo with Rebecca's Empire in March proved they were capable of reproducing the goods in a live setting.

Anyone who's heard the single Whoever's Been Using This Bed on the radio would be aware of what The Earthmen do. Pop's the business here, a timeless blend of lush melodies, sweet harmonies and glossy production.

After a couple of indie single releases, The Earthmen shot to prominence in 1994 with the infectious mini-LP Teen Sensations, a release that generated interest in the band both here and overseas. The EP Fall and Rise Of My Favourite Sixties Girl also delivered the goods, but both were mere indications of what The Earthmen were capable of producing.

Frontman Scott Stevens is quietly excited about the album's release. It's been a long haul for Scott and songwriting partner Nick Batterham, who've endured several line-up changes and countless delays since their sweet times in 1994. They even started recording material for the album way back in 1995, although only some of it will see the light of day.

"One or two songs made it on to the album from '95," Scott explains.

"But we actually did some separate recordings in '95 that were pretty much the pretence of an album which we decided we just wanted as demos. A couple of those songs came with us.

"It's sort of been a long time coming but we've been constantly writing as we go. A lot of the songs off the album have been in the set for the last six or seven months. There's new songs in the set, old songs before the album, there's album tracks and all that kind of stuff. We've been playing the songs (from the new album) for a little while.

"When we came to make the album, Nick and I had done a lot of pre-production on it. Just thinking about ideas and where we wanted sounds to be. When it actually came to the recording of the album, we were fairly firm with what was going on but really open at the same time.

"A lot of things came in on the recordings and there were songs that were written over the period that the album was recorded. But it was one of those things - we went in there with the specific idea that we wanted something quite stereo sounding. A lot of great 60s bands really made good use of the technology of the time. We thought that was important for the type of music we're playing, which is pop music that can sound quite big."

It sounds very lush?

"That's what we wanted. We wanted something that sounded really big and had an organic sort of realness to it. We have a thing in that we like strings and stuff and a lot of melody and harmony."

Although other acts go to great pains to avoid the pop tag, it's something Scott is comfortable with.

"There's that whole sort of rock bias anyway," he begins. "I don't know if it's some testosterone fuelled thing. What we play is pop music and we make no bones about that. We sometimes take issue if people want to put us in a specific category...like calling us Britpop or something. Pop has always been a fairly eclectic sound anyway.

"Like we're big fans of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and a lot of 80s pop bands. Like The Smiths work in there sometimes and REM and all that sort of stuff. I don't know how much of it - specific things - comes out in the music and I'd be quite happy if it didn't. Hopefully little bits and pieces come out but not the one sound of a band trying to sound like another band."

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