Ex-Taswegian via London neoclassical noir group The Paradise Motel return with their first album after a eight year hiatus with perhaps their most ambitious work to date. Tackling a concept album is often fought with scepticism. Tackling one of Australia’s most famed mysteries in the story of the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain, who was alleged to have been taken from her family’s tent by a wild dingo on 17 August 1980…well that’s a mammoth undertaking. Creating music that makes you feel that you are out in that cold desert on that fateful night. Stars sparkling in the clear sky overhead at the foot of Uluru, The Paradise Motel have captured the feeling of the event and emotional aftermath almost perfectly.
Instant comparisons can be made to the likes of Nick Cave and early PJ Harvey with it’s emotive brooding, dark pop sound-scapes. Hauntingly beautiful, desperately melancholy, the songs speak from different perspectives surrounding this story. From Azaria’s mother Linda (‘A Prelude To Saga’), her father Michael (‘The Witnesses’), brother Aiden (‘My Sister In 1994’), the police investigators (‘The Cops’) and even from the missing girl herself (‘Brown Snake’). The nine tracks tell a sad and unfortunate tale without trying to lay blame or explain what actually happened, allowing the characters to display an emotion that I am sure they would’ve gone through at the time and subsequent years that followed.
Musically, the album flows like a river. Simple acoustic songs with violins and keyboards weaving in and around basic structure, fulfilled by Merida’s smooth, stark vocals. Track 4 ‘A Bend In The Terror’ takes on a dark, late night blues vibe while ‘Stations At The Cross’ melts between ethereal organs into raucous musical frenzy and back again.
The Paradise Motel have accomplished what few bands can deliver in a concept album. The album is spot on in capturing the mood of the tale of poor baby Azaria. It will make you want to find more about the case. Read the numerous books on the event, hell it might make you even watch that dreadful movie with Meryl Streep, but it will leave an impact on you.