If you're a contemporary Kiwi you've heard of Supergroove, in which case you've also inadvertently heard of two thirds of Svelte and the other third is usually mentioned in the shadow of his father - any one who's watched Outrageous Fortune has heard the band Hello Sailor before, but they probably did not know it was his father that played bass on track 8 of their 2006 acoustic album. He's also known as the cousin of Nicky Watson's Ex, who is also famous for being the drummer in an underground New Zealand band, Blindspott. Let not the background of this supergroup sway you; when this album drops Svelte will be famous for their own merits.
The first track 'Grind your Bones' announces the album like a 4'' by 2'' of driving Southern Rock n' Blues, riddled with earworms and commanding you to tap your foot or in the very least get up and start swinging You've probably heard this song before on the student radio stations, maybe even on the mainstream, but you probably didn't realise who or what it was, or how addicted to the line “Time is running out” you were about to become.
The music and the lyrics compliment each other in such a way that the each song paints a vivid images of a unique visual landscape from a Mississippi chain gang in 'Rock Song No. 1' to the interior of a Mexican abode in Tijuana to an emptying Auckland pub on a Friday night / Saturday morning in 'Friday.'
As inappropriate as it would be to compare this group of New Zealand's fundamental superstars to the fifth best folk duo in New Zealand it has to be said that 'Friday' is very Flight of the Concord's-esque by way of style, tone and lyrical content. It's also the kind of song your grandparents would waltz to at your 21st party, provided they didn't hear the lyrics “It's Friday and I'm drunk...” For anyone that has been alone and unsuccessful in their gallivantry and drunk on a Friday, it's the perfect song for an introspective nostalgic moment – it might even feel like your theme song.
Where 'Friday' is the tonal high point of the album, 'Roll On' is the contrasting dark, melancholic underbelly of the album. It's a long walk down a cold and lonely road with buzzards circling around your head. It's not the fridge in Pak n' Sav you're standing next to, it's the resonating humming in the background of the chorus and the heart felt cry 'Roll on!' coming through your iPod headphones that's producing these shivers. But don't worry there's a pick me up just around the corner.
Though 'Cat's Paw' begins with the same dreary tone and feeding of dread and impending darkness 'Roll On' left you with, as soon as you feel the bass line and hear the optimistic proclamation 'I will find my way' you know everything will be ok. Go back to the groceries with that triumphant smile on your face.
The album ends appropriately. Like the title and lyrics “Give 'Em an Inch, He'll Take a Mile” suggests you sit back down on your couch when the song ends, perspiring from doing the twist for the past thirty minutes and wanting, craving, demanding more. Thank God for the repeat button.
The album is amazing easy-listening that plays out like a soundtrack to a movie; there's no song out of place, each contributes to the album as a whole and fits with the flow. It's an album you can put on for pretown drinks at the flat, if one were so inclined, and it's also something you can put on in the Holden on the way to your summer holiday the beach bach without offending your parents or granny – it's easy, it's versatile, it's fun for the whole family.
If this description doesn't sell this album to you, or the superstar lineup, or the swanky band name, or the catchy lead single 'Grind your Bones,' or the accompanying stop-motion music video made using a camera, a printer and a pair of scissors, or the love of good Kiwi music then I endeavour to find another way.
Svelte was formed by two ex-Supergroove members, Tim Stewart and Ben Sciascia with drummer Jamie Woolright - cousin to the infamous Shelton Woolright of Blindspott-Nikki Watson-New Idea-Woman's Weekly fame.
The three piece have kept a very low profile up until now, writing, rehearsing and playing the odd show in Auckland. The band recently performed live on National Radio's "The Music Mix" and played Orientation in Wellington with The Exponents. Svelte are currently working on their 6 track debut EP.