Picks and Pans Review: Ghost Nation

updated 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Hunters & Collectors

Lead singer-lyricist Mark Seymour lapses into a flat drone every once in a while, and his lyrics tend to the annoyingly enigmatic. But this Australian octet generates an impressive amount of thrust in its big-band rock mode and can back off into quieter songs with a commendable delicacy.

The band has been performing since 1981, and this is its fifth American label release. Some references—"Let sleeping dogs lie/ Down in Queensway"—are continent-specific. The title song, too, seems to refer to Australia—"Garden of Eden on the South Pacific shore"—although what "Made in Japan/ The pleasure boats are leaving" has to do with Australia is between the gods of aesthetic abstraction and Seymour, who writes the words to the band's tunes (everyone collaborates on melodies).

There are lots of basic rock romance themes, too, though. "When the River Runs Dry" is a particularly enthusiastic, infectious apocalyptic track full of linguistic variations on fiddling while Rome burns ("On the fat of the land I been living," "turn your back on Mother Nature").

Hunters & Collectors may not be chaotic enough to suit those with a taste for more heavy-duty rock, but they do create enough intrigue and momentum to keep up a listener's interest. (Atlantic)

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