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Split Enz - Mental Notes CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

4.06 | 49 ratings

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4 stars A gentle mellotron wash introduces us to this band's debut and a most catchy guitar riff for 'Walking Down a Road', a rich and diverse example of the Split Enz brand of Art Rock... and make no mistake, that's exactly what it is in all its splendor on this charming record. And though perhaps not as sophisticated as the courtly fare of Genesis, this session, both ambitious and quite grounded, is simply one of the best rock albums of 1975.

Utilizing the liberties taken by artists such as Bowie, Rundgren and Hammill but with a firmer symphonic ethic and prog sensibility, 'Mental Notes' plays like rock theater; grand, musical and playful with a perfect balance of structure and texture. This is heard on 'Under the Wheel', which transforms into the pseudo-country romp 'Amy (Darling)'. And yet even in all the fun, this group never puts aside its art priorities for the sake of humor the way ELP might. Twee at times but a great extension of 'Amy' is 'So Long For Now', and the theme of this session really begins to gel. Big orchestral booms and Floydian strangeness warms the tone in 'Stranger Than Fiction', and Phil Judd's sadly sweet reflection on life 'Time For a Change' is fortified by Eddie Rayner's lush 'tron. 'Maybe' bounces along in a classic 70s way with hip irony and Beatles swing, Judd's mandolin carries 'Titus', with 'Spellbound' and the silly title wrapping things up. Absolutely pleasing, unpretentious yet complex, it's a shame the Enz took an increasingly commercial direction though you'd never know it from this album. Not grimly sober like the 'real' prog acts but too serious for a party band, this septet deserves a solid spot in the annals of Progressive Rock, especially for this black pearl. The Warner remaster has two live tracks from 1975 in Melbourne, '129' and 'Lovey Dovey'.

Atavachron | 4/5 |


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