27 Nov 2022
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Album Review: Waiuku College - Our Sound

09 Jan 2019 // A review by Trevor Faville

Changes in secondary education point towards project based and /or big picture learning approaches which attempts, among other things, to replicate ‘real world situations and experiences. The idea being that learning would involve many curriculum linking into a project or experience. Music, of course, is always at the forefront of educational innovation, and an example of what such a thing might look like is this release from Waiuku College, who must be something of a well-oiled machine now, following up from last year's strong effort.

It's a cast of many, under the direction and production of Head of Music Ben Ruegg, and the end result is a large serving-21 tracks- covering a range of student experience and influence. Educators take this as a given, but many might find the level of maturity something of a surprise, both in terms of musical sophistication and lyrical content. So even when the work tends toward the generic (Ms. Swift, take a bow, you are everywhere, it seems), which happens at times, those moments are far more workmanlike rather than cringeworthy.

Performances - particularly vocally - are strong, professional and feel like the work of an experienced team. If this group did a Fly My Pretties style touring revue with this material, this would a be a natural and worthwhile follow up project. A consistent factor through this collection is melodic strength, perhaps because of the dominant stylistic influences (Nashville pop-country in particular, but 90’s shoegaze /Britpop is there too-as well as more expected Hip-Hop and Dance). There is plenty of the ‘Big Chorus’ - never easy to do well-and consistently through the songs there is lyrical economy and real melodic craft. Many of these artists give a definite sense that following their output in the future would be rewarding.

This albums length and stylistic variation is either a strength or weakness depending on listener preference, and that is an unavoidable consequence given the context. Certainly, some of the contributors appear more than once - perhaps a separate release is deserved? One keeps coming back to that sense of maturity and honesty that shines through these tracks, making for musical moments of real quality here.

 

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31 Mar 2022 // by Trevor Faville
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