Tarmac Adam – In Place (ALBUM REVIEW)

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tarmacadam3It’s never easy being part of a spin-off band, especially when the band that you’ve spun off from (A) had enough gold records to fill a good portion of Fort Knox and (B) when the individual who wrote all the material and sang all the songs has opted to seek his or her fortunes elsewhere. It’s a shame really, especially when the former members of that once successful combo have plenty to offer on their own.

That’s the case with Tarmac Adam, a quartet from Down Under who count Nick Seymour, the erstwhile bassist from Crowded House, among their number. As was his role in his previous outfit, Seymour plays a rather anonymous role here, neither doing any of the singing or composing any of the band’s songs. Still, as a boost to the group’s marquee appeal, Seymour does at least bring some notoriety to the proceedings, hopefully attracting potential fans through a general curiosity factor if nothing else. And, in fact, that should be enough, because once the curious lean in for even a cursory listen, chances are Tarmac Adam’s music will win them over from that point on.

That said, the initial encounter with the band’s new album, In Place, which comes via the downcast “A Town Called Mercy,” though admittedly a lot less auspicious than the Jam similar sounding title “A Town Called Malice,” doesn’t exactly stir up the warm and fuzzy feelings once elicited by Crowded House. Indeed, aside from some momentary atmospheric passages in “Tellingly” and “Nine Lives,” where echoes of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” might be evoked for those who can stretch their imaginations, there’s nothing on the band’s third outing that sounds even vaguely similar to Crowded House’s generally cheery charms. That’s probably a good thing; presumably a musician with a workmanlike-like, forward thinking attitude, it’s unlikely Seymour would want the pressure of being some kind of torchbearer for his former band. That task is best left to Neil and/or Tim Finn who were the prime House movers anyway.

Still, comparisons aside, Tarmac Adam have plenty going for them regardless, and after three albums, they’ve deservedly come into their own. Their’s is a decidedly spunky sound, one typified by “Begin To Mend,” “Holding” and “Today’s the Day,” songs that reflect an Aussie knack for creating sprightly melodies that sound like the essence of pure pop. Despite the mellow harmonies and a generally unobtrusive approach, In Place rings with a generally desirable disposition, one that makes repeated hearings an ongoing treat. Of course, whether or not they arise to the vaulted heights attained by Crowded House remains to be seen, and certainly a song that bears an upward gaze like “Walk Tall” may at least put them in contention. However, there’s nothing so immediately hooky as to guarantee them a place in the upper tier of the charts. Suffice it to say however, that Tarmac Adam have clearly shown their ability to make music that’s seductive and sublime. And ought that not be enough?

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