Single(s) in focus reviewed by Vince Leigh
Spaceman Africa the Musical returns with two tracks reinforcing the autobiographical comic’s distinctive approach to narrative-based rock.
Hailing from Canberra, the writer, musician, and global nomad adopted his name after a memorable escapade in Ireland in 2002. His humour-laced indie odes have been compared to a contrasting list of artists, including Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Tenacious D, and Flight of the Conchords.
The two songs on offer here—Catch Me If You Canberra and Electric Scooter Blues—contain common musical and lyrical threads, both stylistically and narratively.
Catch Me If You Canberra is a straight grooved guitar-driven song whose primary concern is to namecheck as many Canberra suburbs as possible during six minutes and six seconds, and almost gets there, citing seventy-four.
That is perhaps a small feat in itself.
This geographical roll call is presented as a kind of flânerie, as we follow a nameless narrator and his travelling sidekick Bruce (of course) and their ramble across the nation’s capital, visiting various sites and bumping into local characters along the way.
Aside from the aspects of ingenuity required to create this Canberran name pun extravaganza, the performance and a mild sense of self-deprecation infused with the approach render it all an amusing experience; more so for fellow Canberrans.
The second of Spaceman’s tracks, Electric Scooter Blues, extends this strategy, setting the tale of a rather unfortunate experience—a fatality-free scooter mishap—to the sounds of a fast-paced rock pulse and a narrative with a discernible arc.
We are given all the juicy details of the incident, where ‘bone and concrete meet’ with our narrator declaring they would much rather ‘eat at Hooters than fall off my scooter.’
But fall he did. The track’s musical dynamics helpfully reflect all the hapless tragedy of the accident, doused in Spaceman’s idiosyncratic touch.
The climax, however, is not escaping from near death and throwing the scooter in question ‘in the lake’ but that the intractable crooner goes on to merely purchase another.
These tracks blend colloquialism with a conversational delivery, set against a subordinate musical backdrop, which all makes for pure entertainment.