Back in the 80s if you were growing up (or down) in Britain you could soothe your ears to the dulcet strains of Primal Scream, The Bodines, Shop Assistants, Mighty Mighty, Talulah Gosh and a multitude of 60s-influenced and fiercely independent acts from every corner of the islands.
And if you were in New Zealand durng the same dismal decade you would be blessed with the Dunedin Sound, Flying Nun and the parochial but rich scenes of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Clean lead a charge of The Chills, Bird Nest Roys, the Double Happys et al, bands that were tuneful without being overtly twee as their counterparts in the UK may have been.
Trick Mammoth appear to have the best of both worlds; a Dunedin band but with flowers in their hair and various other parts of their body. A trio that’s not even a year old have just released their debut, Floristry on Fishrider records and Occultation recordings. Trick Mammoth is Millie Lovelock and Adrian Ng on vocals and guitars, and Sam Valentine on drums.
The opening tracks, Baltimore and Pinker Sea, have Lovelock’s dreamy voice at the forefront, but by the third Ng is sharing vocal duties, and takes on more of such responsibilities as the album progresses. It’s a combination I am unsure of; Lovelock alone gives a breathy atmosphere to Baltimore; Ng’s soft but forceful timbre is apt for Days of Being Wild, but sometimes I am left with the feeling that he should be doing this, and that she should do that, and maybe both of them should be doing the same thing. Or differently.
Trick Mammoth are strong believers in love, happiness, the beauty of flowers, the glory of youth and a deep devotion to music, and its role in the hearts and knees of the world’s pre-middle agers.
Baltimore is a classic, get-it-up-ya belter of an opener, but right at the end is its equal, Week End, where Ng and Lovelock become one, a trumpet of chorus-verse-chorus, and with Valentine’s steady drumming it glitters and shines like any post-2002 Belle and Sebastian single.
I am almost sounding effusive about Floristry, and perhaps I have become carried away. But there were moments when I tuned out, especially the first few songs of the ‘second side’ where Trick Mammoth lost momentum and seemed content to regurgitate the first four or five tracks. A little more diversity would not have gone amiss, but Floristry is certainly an entertaining addition to the welter of Dunedin product issued over the past three decades.