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Split Enz - Mental Notes CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 48 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars Mental Notes is unlike anything else in the Split Enz catalogue, and frankly unlike anything else ever made. It's astonishing to think that this was their first album and their sound was so complete and assured out of the gate.

These crazy young kiwis produced a bizarre stew of early seventies sounds, without leaning too heavily on any one in particular. You can hear lots of weirdo symphonic a la Genesis, the visceral energy of Vdgg, and the unhinged art rock of 10cc and Roxy Music, with folk and music hall tossed into the mix. The album draws you into a weird surreal universe of its own, aided by eerie, echoey production and lots of spooky mellotron. That's right proggers, there's tons of 'tron on this album.

The musicianship is unexpectedly high throughout, particularly from keyboard whiz Eddie Rayner and virtuosic drummer Emlyn Crowther, who wasn't with the band for long, more's the pity. The drum production is excellent, good and thumpy. Guitarist Wally Wilkison also acquits himself well with some great electric playing. But the band's two stars were vocalists Tim Finn and Phil Judd. Finn's style resembles some kind of manic music hall singer, while Judd employs a mega-vibrato bray that is somehow incredibly creepy and matches the weirdness of his lyrics.

The album starts off with an art rock epic with lots of different memorable parts and melodies before delving into Judd's scary death ballad Under the Wheels. That's when you know this is going to be one weird trip. Before you're through, you've been treated to full blown symphonic (Stranger Than Fiction), a beautiful piano and mellotron-led ballad (Time for a Change), a thumpy rocker (Maybe) and a very strange mandolin- based song (Titus), before ending with Judd's maniacal, riffy Spellbound. You can imagine the band rehearsing in a small shack in at the very bottom of the south island of NZ, with a storm crashing overhead, conjuring up the weirdest sounds and vibes imaginable.

Believe me, proggers, no matter what you think of the later edition of the band in its Neil Finn days, this is an absolutely essential art rock album, so just get your hands on a copy!

Heptade | 5/5 |


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