This brand new album from Makis is a broadly eclectic and colorful collection of Australian songwriting – classic hits re-imagined under a fresh creative light; and it’s a pleasure to listen through.
Don’t Wanna Be The One kicks things into gear as an indie-rock anthem with plenty of energy and raw, distorted guitar rhythms. There’s a mild electronic finish to certain elements, but given the vocal passion and pace of the song, these are subtle traits in comparison to the entire, finished aura. To assume this will be the typical set-up of the album though, would be to wrongly pigeon-hole Makis – and to wrongly minimalise the vastness of Australian music.
Under The Milky Way follows, and the mood, set-up and vocals lean in an entirely new direction. An eighties-style progression meets with a comforting and rather addictive, familiar melody, and a sort of partly trip-hop inspired tone. This progresses into a slightly heavier realm at about the half-way mark. In every case, it turns out, predicting how a Makis cover will evolve is no easy task.
Downhearted continues the mellow mood but introduces sweeping, euphoric synths, a marching drum-line, and a soulful vocal that helps a sense of rising anticipation really take hold. Then we get What About Me, an almost acoustic, simple set-up, and perhaps the first song to instantly captivate lyrically.
Sia’s immense hit Elastic Heart gets a mellow, almost Gospel-like re-working – a more spacious set-up, a male lead vocal and an easy-going, pop-rock aura. This is followed by the legendary Down Under, a didgeridoo-fest with sci-fi fragments and a brilliantly energizing rhythm. The perfect choice to send the project into its latter half.
The Real Thing keeps the energy high, feeling like a festival-ready explosion of raw energy and distortion. Then the rather infamous We Are The People gets a completely new look – let yourself ascend into space as a thick bass-heavy drum is contrasted by a high synth riff that matches the vocal melody. Two voices, a back and forth dynamic, and a surprisingly clean-cut, effect-free finish. A totally unexpected alternative to the original arrangement. The song builds up brilliantly – the latter half really enveloping the audience.
At the penultimate moment we get a stripped-back intro followed by a thick wall of distortion and an unexpectedly delicate vocal lead for After All These Years. Then Quasimodo’s Dream adopts that eighties sci-fi vibe again to bring things to a memorable finish. Contrast works its magic again, deep synth notes juxtapose lighter, natural vocals, and these two elements walk hand in hand as the song slowly but surely gathers momentum and intensity.
For some, the purpose of a cover song is to simply replicate and honor the original. For many others though, it’s an opportunity to imagine things under a new light – and these are the ones that are generally the most interesting; Gary Jules’ take on Mad World comes to mind as a fine example. With Down Under, we get an entire album of newly envisioned classics. The songs are familiar, but also not. It’s appealing, unusual, and often impossible not to sing along with.