It comes 10 years after FOUR HOURS SLEEP's debut album.
Drawing on the same core group of musicians and singers (with a few new surprising guests), the10-year gap has seen the music of FOUR HOURS SLEEP grow in depth and sophistication, yet maintain the deceptive simplicity and emotional directness of the first album.
A traditional rock trio (guitar, bass, drums) combines freely at different times with piano accordian, harmonica, harp, violin, castinets and mutated tape collages.
From the lush Phil Spector-like opening track, "I Know I Shouldn't (but I can't help myself)" to the country-tinged simplicity of "Original Lover" and the slightly ironic acoustic/synth/rock of "I Love That Woman", every song lives in its own individual sonic world, realised by both the unique vocal stylings of each of the singers, and the delicate production touches in the overall sound.
It all comes together in a beautifully crafted set of songs and instrumentals which all deal, as the album title suggests, with the vagaries, excitement, fleetingness, and intensity of love.
With guest vocalists Angie Hart, Charles Jenkins, Ollie Olsen, Stephen Cummings and Paul Kelly – who, of course, all have their own stellar recording careers – producer/songwriter Bill McDonald and band members Peter and Dan Luscombe have learnt from experience that capturing a quality spontaneous performance is more important than any studied slickness.
Each of these great singers gives a truly one-off performance, especially electronic music legend Ollie Olsen, who is so far outside his regular field, as to make his song genuinely unique. That may partially explain the long hiatus between FOUR HOURS SLEEP albums: getting these people together was never going to be easy, so recording would take place whenever and wherever possible, from a series of studios around the country to a mini-disk recorder at a train station.
LOVE SPECIFICS draws inspiration from the length and breadth of pop music history but remains strangely uncategorizable and familiar at the same time. It reflects Bill McDonald's long career in music as a member of groups, sideman to some great local and international artists, and involvement in scenes from pub rock to the avant-garde.
FOUR HOURS SLEEP draws together the threads of an unusual musical life and weaves a cloth that is beautiful to hear and makes you feel good.
"LOVE SPECIFICS could be the year's best pop record. It's a wonderful trip" – Jeff Jenkins (Inpress, ABC Radio)