THE PUDDLE: Secret Holiday / Victory Blues Double EP
By David Kearney
Formed in Dunedin by the prolific and enigmatic George D. Henderson, The Puddle has been a stalwart of the NZ alt-rock music scene for almost three decades. On this, their seventh full-length album (actually a combination of two separately recorded EPs), they unleash more of their distinctly ’70s-inspired post-punk sound. Channelling the psychedelic musings of Lou Reed and Syd Barrett, through a hazy mix of Devo, The Smiths and The Kinks, this record boasts an intriguing array of dirty licks and ragged grooves. Over the course of the 10 tracks, songwriter Henderson takes us, via the scenic route, on a journey through the rich tapestry of his own life, warts and all. Oh Hayley, You’re Right stands out for its unashamed comparison of an ex-flame to the infamous vertically-challenged French emperor Napoleon. You’ll be surprised how much they have in common. The trademark Puddle garage-rock sound is augmented by keyboards, viola, and electric piano, which fill out the choruses and intertwine with the meandering guitar solos to add depth and texture to the mix. While the tracks themselves are cohesive, the production unfortunately tends to be disjointed and lets the overall quality down. For Henderson, this album might be the ultimate catharsis – a chance to exorcise the demons of a chequered rock’n’roll life, and look towards the future with a band, who despite having nearly 30 years under their belt, are still in fighting form.