To gain any credible form of notoriety within the realms of Melbourne’s music scene, a band needs to incorporate something different into the mix. Better Than The Wizards have strived for this with their self-titled debut offering by attempting to incorporate radio friendly pop melodies with their love of jazz. However, unfortunately they just fall short of pulling this off.
The record opens with the catchy, horn-driven tracks ‘She Said’ and ‘Coming Back Your Way’. They drip with infectious summer essence, whilst highlighting vocalist Daniel Farthing’s raspy and, at times, American twang.
However, the pace is regrettably taken down a notch with the Script-ish piano ballad ‘Waiting’, where the upbeat brass sounds take a back seat as Farthing aches for some of life’s answers. It continues on this same, downhill slope during the calypso-like ‘Grooving the Tango’, a tune that sees the band trying too hard to combine a variety of elements.
‘Don’t Give Your Love’, ‘Tell Me What Love Is’, and ‘Into the Water’ all highlight the band’s musical prowess – excluding the 80s indebted guitar solos during the first two. That said, there are only so many overly polished and cautious tales about love, regret, and desire one can take. It’s the lack of lyrical and musical diversity that may well pigeonhole this band who, while trying to sound diverse, sound ironically the same.
The gospel tinged and sax infused ‘Let Me Down’ is a step in the right direction, but by this point, it’s too little too late. By veering away from the tuneful sounds of the first two tracks, Better Than The Wizards doesn’t do justice to the band’s talents.
Key Tracks: ‘She Said’
This review was written for Tonedeaf (An Australian music site)