‘Everybody moves away yeah, everybody changes’ once sang the mercurial Ron S. Peno, of our own seminal Australian band, Died Pretty, circa mid 1980s. It’s a simple yet most poignant lyric, one that we are all familiar with, which befits tales of people that we all have come to know, even our own selves. Those people who move elsewhere, who change their ways, some due to their own enemies within, their own ‘creatures’ as Daniel Morphett here puts it. It’s about drawing a line in the sand, and moving on, and it isn’t always a bad thing either. Here in ‘Fleeting Glimpses’ by El Duende, after a few plays, you may well know what I mean. It’s as if Morphett has picked up his own past, and is now running and exorcising it.
What I like about this album is the openness and familiarity of Morphett’s journey. On tracks like, ‘Lights of Town’, and ‘Path of No Return’, it’s not hard to see that there is a personable path unfolding for this tall gangly man. In the former song, he talks about how the lights ‘call you and they haunt you’, while in the latter he openly expresses how he ‘had to give it up’ and how he ‘had to make it work’ to ultimately to build what he calls ‘a little buttercup’, a refuge, a new place. In the very good ‘Follow Me Home’, Morphett achingly bellows that feeling of being lost and not knowing why, and then coming so close to something that you ‘can taste it’. All of the songs here are sung in a beautiful emotive manner – it is cry in your beer material that is genuine and authentic. I say that because like his peers, Gareth Liddiard of the Drones, or even the late David McComb of the Triffids, Morphett doesn’t need to feign a UK or USA accent. There are no disguises; he simply writes about how he feels without care for any airs or graces.
For the uninitiated, Morphett once fronted one of Sydney’s “almost famous” live institutions from the early/mid 1980s to the early 1990s, the Craven Fops - a raw imploding beast that verged on the epic, but unfortunately soared too quickly, without enough notice. They were almost too good for this town, in a time when rock and roll lineage overshadowed intelligible emotive raw tunes. Back then, Daniel had an Ian Curtis energy about him, which was ably backed by a unique combination of everyday characters and artistes. They were personable and likeable, with Morphett driving the band, and its van (an ambulance), to semi fame.
But as the saying goes, the Fops changed; they rocked and they rolled, with Morphett relocating to Spain, where he wrote a bunch of new songs. On return, he cleverly recruited sound bassist Gary Manly from Tactics, and the renowned drumming talents of John Fenton from Crow. The beautiful moods of violinist Christian Rosenmai were also added, providing the near perfect foil for Morphett, but he still wanted more. He then invited a multiple brass section to the studio, including his cousin Jason Morphett, and ex Laughing Clown guest Glad Reed to complement what is now the ultimate recipe.
It’s 2009 now, and Morphett soldiers on happily with his new band in tow. What we have now is a more mature refreshing line-up, which sometimes echo such sounds as The National and Morrissey; honest earnest tunes that one can relate to, and ones that will definitely have you humming for more.Bob Blunt