A while back I linked the above video, the Herd's 'The King is Dead' from their upcoming album, Summerland. On Thursday I picked up a copy of the album, and I've been listening since then.
It is, I think, the strongest of their albums to date, musically and lyrically. Their is a richness to the music that hasn't been there in the previous albums, and I suppose, if you were to describe this change, you would call it a maturity in sound. It is the lyrics that, however, show this change thing most--and there's something strangely impressive about a song that can be built around an opening like this:
'The revolution will be industrial
We charge like the Battle of Beersheba in our lust for oil
Didn't you know it was all combustible
We got born again greens just because it's tax deductible'
In additional to this, it's a very current album: topics range from John Howard, oil, the war, and other topics that are centred in the now. It's as if the band decided that they would put a time stamp on their tunes, which is certainly a nice thing to see, at least from my point of view. Albums tend to come and go through my life--I flip through them weekly, and there's always something new, so this time stamp on Summerland, which may turn some off due to it's ability to date, works for me, because I'm not getting a retread of generic themes and topics that a lot of bands do. I don't need, nor want, every album to last me twenty or thirty years--though hey, if it does that, all good--and the attention to the now feels quite refreshing because it's not trying to strip itself of any time period or opinion.
Still, for all that I have positive things about it, I don't like it as much as I liked The Sun Never Sets, the previous album. There were at least three tunes there that grabbed my attention straight away, and I loved, and still love. Admittedly, the three songs are focused on the war--they are Apocalypta, Starship Troopers (redux), and the Metres Gained--and it may be that the subject matter of each is what caught my interest. I quite like the cover they did of Redgum's 'Only 19' as well, so more than likely this is the case. However, such a complaint is one that is based on taste, and is really, not a complaint at all. What the Herd have given with their fourth album is a smart, mature, and interesting album that is firmly centred in 2008.
In short, it's worth the cash.