Record Review - 3 January 02 2002

Is this a concept album? At the very least, the stunning debut from this sample-happy Australian sextet feels vaguely thematic: Each of its 18 tracks seamlessly segue into and cross-reference one another. A whinnying horse pops up in both "Stay Another Season" and "Frontier Psychiatrist," and the first two songs on the album are hooked by the line, "Since I left you/I found a world so new" — which puts a distinct stamp on how the rest of Since I Left You is heard.

The music is a squishy, playful take on a variety of club styles — disco's sinuous thump, late-'80s hip-hop's sample-adelic fever dreams, downtempo and ambient's kitschy twitter. It's tempting to see Since I Left You as a map of the emotional terrain covered when one leaves a constricting relationship and enters the wider world (in this case, the nighttime world of club culture) to find one's self. Constructed from some 900 samples, the album is a sonic fever dream, the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique refracted through the rave-kissed bliss-out of Primal Scream's "Loaded." Blithely kitschy — thanks equally to production that situates everything in a comfortable, fuzzy-warm midrange, abjuring the sonic extremities (sizzling high end, gut-wrenching bottom) of most post-rave production — the album conflates disco and '70s arena pop as lost vistas of possibility. All of this without an Urge Overkill-style smirk.??