Pulled together from the remnants of Newcastle bands Purplene and the Instant, Sydney’s Charge Group came at us in 2008 with a debut album that had critics struggling for the right adjectives and nouns. Was Escaping Mankind psychedelic? A kind of soft, blissful corner of indie-rock? Cinematic art pop? But one thing they weren't struggling with was appreciation: it was very bloody good, they declared. The boys landed a European record deal and a permanent place in Sydney's collective musical heart.
Last August, that love grew deeper when, after a too-long break from recording, Charge Group released a hugely memorable music video for the first single off of their self-titled follow-up which snuck onto iTunes this March. ‘Run’ – a plucky build-up of a song – featured actor Brendan Cowell as a city suit drawn into a basement where he joins a group of wild, tribal dancers. The video has undertones of ‘Lonely Boy’ and ‘Weapon of Choice’ and the tune delivers a massive, thumping payoff by the end. You can hear it this month when Charge Group plays the Red Rattler.
The clip, which Cowell directed, was a “firecracker”, says Charge Group’s vocalist and guitarist, ‘Black’, who appears in the video, along with bandmates, veiled in a red ski mask. And while it sounds little like the mellower tracks that fill the rest of the album, it was the perfect lead single. “The video was blowing our mind on so many levels that we just thought the hell with it – it was a refreshing way to re-introduce ourselves to the public.”
Black, Rosie, Adam and Jason recorded Charge Group back home in a Newcastle church. The space had a naturally strong acoustic sound, explains Black, “and there is this cool aspect of the church being a place where people come together and sing, and we have lots of sing-along moments together on the second album.” Mixed by Sydney’s Wayne Connolly and mastered in New York by Greg Calbi (the National, Grizzly Bear), the album is characteristically ambitious, filled with some of the best genre patchworks you’ll hear this year.
Second single ‘Broken Sunlight’ is a perfect example of that – opening with the plucky threat of a ‘Run’-like firecracker before settling into a gentler, almost mournful chorus. The video is another gem, too, shot in New York and Sydney and featuring Black at one point in a cardboard boat with a crafty cut-out sun above him, hanging from a pole. It was shot with the help of the band’s “talented, beautiful, mildly unhinged community of friends,” according to their YouTube post.
That idea of collaborating with friends – playing in a number of outfits, Black and his bandmates have picked up mates like Cowell and Kim Moyes of the Presets over the years – is important to Black. “We’ve always been intrigued by involving people outside of ourselves to interpret our music, particularly visually. It gives the song itself an entire new dimension."