Clear-voiced singer/songwriter Suzie Higgie gets rich, electric rock backing from her bandmates on Wish List, the Sydney quartet’s first longplayer. Although Higgie’s refined delivery suggests a West Coast Debbie Harry, guitarist Stuart Robertson sounds like a reformed metalhead, cranking up the contrast in a tastefully loud surge. If the band flirts shamelessly with mainstream radio, the album has an undercurrent of recklessness and individuality that shores it up on songs like the barely contained “Shot in Europe,” the industrialized “Puppy Drink” and the ominous “Tunnel Vision.” “Lock It” has cotton-candy ABBA harmonies; “Dream Hangover” has a vaguely Beatlesque melody; “Jennifer” evokes the Bangles. Other tracks range from Cocteau Twins airiness to Church-like jangle. “You’re in a Mess”—recorded, mixed and produced separately from the rest of the album—has a catchy chorus, making it the obvious choice for a single. The CD adds a bonus track, “Shelter.”
Produced by Jessica Corcoran (who’s worked with Ned’s Atomic Dustbin), the heavier and darker follow-up is equally rife with obvious hooks. “Incinerator” reheats the classic girl-group sound without burning it alive; “God in a Dustbin” is at least reverent toward the immaculate conception of melody; the power pop of “Natural Scene” and the emotional release of “Parachute” are bonuses.