The Verlaines: Pot Boiler
By Simon Sweetman
Graeme Downes, now a senior lecturer at Otago University - in and around being a singer/songwriter and chief of The Verlaines, reckons it was easier to come up with ĎPot Boilerí than for his band to commit to playing a gig. Fair enough. The Verlaines are all fathers now (Midlife Crisis is the albumís opener), holding down responsible jobs as teachers, lecturers, store-owners and living variously in Dunedin, Balclutha and points even further south. For all that they still - when they get together - make great music. This album has that languid Central Otago feel about it, those mellifluous melodies entice as soon as you press play. This is a really strong set of songs that never try too hard and deserve recognition along with so many of the other great songs that Downes has created with this legendary Flying Nun band. Despite being written on computer and very quickly rehearsed by the remainder of the band the material is surprising in its swing and detail. Warm verses and hearty choruses sit at the head of each song, sweeping orchestral parts embellishing the bandís quality musicianship and countering the often bitter lyrics. These are great compositions from a great songwriter and a top band. The world, as Downes asserts, is indeed better of with a Verlaines album that they canít actually play live than without it.