This review is published over at the 405, here.
The Aussie brother and sister duo have produced a somewhat yin and yang record in their Big Jet Plane EP. Two tracks, including the single 'Big Jet Plane', are very good and two of the four tracks are…well, just not so good.
The habit to alternate between which sibling takes the lead vocal contributes to the unconnected feel of the record, although they at least have one excellent track each.
The single 'Big Jet Plane' (above) is beautiful — a real example of the less is more philosophy. It’s chorus, “Gonna take her for a ride on a big jet plane” is catchy and radio-ready without going all-out cheesy indie pop. Instead it’s classic Stone siblings — all melodic guitar riffs, plicky plucky strings, and punctuated by the smooth surfer tones of Angus Stone.
‘Living On a Rainbow’ has some moments of promise but disappointingly doesn’t really seem to get going and horror of horrors ‘climaxes’ with a children’s choir. Always tricky, kiddy choirs in pop songs — at best they sound sickenly twee at worst they are just downright creepy, and ‘Rainbow’ falls into the latter category.
‘My Malakai’ is a strange meander into some slightly passé musical territory but all without managing to add anything new. But ‘Malakai’ does at least serve to provide a nod to some of the band’s influences — there are hints of Neil Young, Al Stewart and Simon & Garfunkel.
But the EP’s final track is a different story altogether. A brave and bare cover of ‘You’re The One That I Want’ — yep! as in the uber cheesey karaoke classic from Grease — it provides a heart meltingly moving demonstration of the power of Julia Stone’s unique voice. It drifts up and down, echoing and shaking over the well-known lyrics and adding layers of emotion to the song that were just never there before.
‘Jet Plane’ then, is a schizophrenic record — half brilliant and beautiful, and half overstretched in its attempt to be interesting.