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Orangefarm - Album Review: Inheritance

21 Jul 2023 // A review by ApolloSteamTrain

Inheritance is the long awaited debut album from Wellington indie rock outfit Orangefarm.

The band is the vehicle for the ongoing musical offerings of front-man Nigel Mitchell, who is well settled and respected in the Wellington musical landscape. Orangefarm have been jangling since the mid-90's releasing only a small amount of material. I can only assume that like all musicians, life has gotten in the way a bit here and there.

None the less good things take time and it would seem that Nigel enlisted the help of friend and producer Rob Mayes from Failsafe Records to get this album up, running and over the line.

When I am given music to review I deliberately make an attempt to not find out anything about the artist until I have listened to the work. Far too much emphasis and noise is often given to everything surrounding the artist these days and the core art is forgotten or undervalued. This way I let the music do the talking first and then discover the people second.

On first listen and the realization that the sound was laid back singer songwriter based indie rock, I was instantly reminded of Don McGlashan, The Chills and REM types. Post my first run through of the album I was glad to read from a couple of fan comments on Bandcamp that I was not alone in my comparisons. It can be difficult not to compare artists and sounds based on known likes and dislikes and no one wants to be pigeonholed, but in the case of Orangefarm my comparisons are 100% complimentary.

As previously stated it's been a while between releases for these guys so again I assume that a lot of TLC has gone into the making of Inheritance. This is an album that you should listen to, from beginning to end. A piece of work that is the sum of its parts.

Each of the songs has its own part to play in the listening journey and takes you up and down the gears with well-crafted songwriting and soundscape.

I have to describe Nigel's songwriting as "mature". The overall structures are often simple in their makeup but within the simplicity I find brilliance in surprise subtle changes and cadences that you won't expect. Nigel manages to inject "just enough pop in the songs to keep you listening while the magic is unleashed".

Production is slick but not too overproduced as the Orangefarm sound is heavily vocal driven and often requires space. Rob Mayes has done an excellent job mixing the album considering the tracking was done at differing times and places.

There is a lot to process on this record from great vocals and guitars through to magnificent tambourine, French horns, guitar loops and even backwards vocals. All coupled with intelligent songwriting and clever placement of all instruments to produce the final sound.

Many great musical moments.

Here are my top 3.

The opening track You Should Have Said is epic. I love it when the very first track on an album sounds like it should be a live set opener. I believe this track is in 6/4 timing and it will instantly capture both your heart and your feet. You will feel like you are packed into the Town Hall to watch Orangefarm and the waiting is finally over. Indie pop will rain down upon you. Great drum work here with a particular mention to the toms in the choruses. Excellent pop structure to the track making it an ear worm to get you onside with the Orangefarm sound. This track has an excellent bridge section that leads to the final chorus without a return to another verse. Great songwriting. Coming in at a mere 2:53 you will definitely be replaying again.

Speaking of ear worms, These Things Don't Concern Me, the very next track, takes first place. A beautiful free flowing 4 chord guitar jangle with a great opening line "Today I have been sitting on my hands" and a chorus repeat line of "numbers never were my strong-point" These lyrics have mysteriously become stuck in my head. Thanks Nigel

The French horn driven Simple needs a special mention simply because it is a great showcase for the French Horn. Oh and because I totally love brass instruments in any type of rock music. Actually I just totally love brass (wish i could play). Simple is far from it. Again a track in what seems to be 6/4 timing (tell me if I am wrong) with great intro parts to each section that resolve naturally back to the verses. Just sounds fantastic and keeps the vocals and the rest of the instruments in the track floating along.

Inheritance is a beautiful haunting ballad with a looping guitar riff that will capture attention. The chorused vocals over the top of subtle bass and atmospheric pads make for a dream state that sounds awesome in headphones.

Ok, so that's actually 4 top moments, not 3 - but hey it's my review and I am not going back to delete 1.

As previously stated Inheritance is a lot of things but if you want me to summarise?

This album is really, really good and is of a high standard and quality that is rare in these modern times. A total joyful experience to listen to and I highly recommend you give it a spin.

I look forward to catching Orangefarm live should I be so lucky...


About Orangefarm

If you’ve spent time in the unhurried world of New Zealand indie rock in the past couple of decades, you might find something comforting, almost familiar about the music of Wellington band Orangefarm. It strolls forth with a skipping beat, a propulsive guitar strum, a gentle toot of French horn, all suggesting we’re all headed off somewhere cross country.

But as the lilting tune and the his/hers harmonies take hold, it’s apparent there’s something thorny going on. The music often deftly wraps lyrical barbs in its pop hooks: bittersweet, literate touches and moments where the deceptively low-key music is a framework for complicated emotions and some cosmic ideas.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Orangefarm


Year: 2023
Type: Album
The Water
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Joined At The Hip
Year: 1999
Type: Album

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