In October 2012, I attended the first live music event of my life (proper, cool music, that is; I choose to employ selective retention when it comes to Human Nature‘s Here & Now tour of 2002). The cool gig in question was headlined by Brisbane four-piece Last Dinosaurs, whose debut album In a Million Years had been my soundtrack to the latter half of grade 12.
In the years between then and early 2015, the band was relatively quiet. There was no new music and Australian shows were few and far between. This may have been due, at least in part, to the departure of bassist Sam Gethin-Jones in mid-2013. To say that I yearned for the sunny guitar riffs and youthful exuberance of Last Dinosaurs is not merely hyperbole; I really, really missed them. The announcement of a second album and the release of lead single Evie in April had kept me buoyant thus far in 2015, but listening to Wellness in full has been elating.
Opener Take Your Time is bustling with ideas. The focus here is not the guitar (though it is integral), but the trickling, rattling percussive aspects that are woven through drums and synth to form a song that requires proper exploration. Back that up with Evie – a terrific, punchy return single for the band – and you’re off to a damn good start.
What’s more, Karma might just feature my favourite riff of 2015. It’s comparatively sparse, but a moment of simplicity and reflection on an album of fresh ideas and unbridled effervescence is welcome. Out of all the tracks on Wellness, it’s probably the one most reminiscent of the old Last Dinosaurs. At the risk of sounding sappy and nostalgic, it reminds me why I love this band.
Wellness was recorded last summer with the expert guidance of producer Scott Horscroft, who has previously worked with the likes of The Presets and Empire of the Sun. He is largely responsible for the album’s slick and subtle electronic undertones, but, in terms of musical development, this is more of an adaptation than an evolution. Last Dinosaurs are still a riff-happy indie pop group; now, however, they’ve forged a depth and maturity in their sound that was previously absent. Even tracks like Wurl and Always, which start quite unassumingly, become irresistible sonic journeys. From the dreamy whirlpool of the title track – a suitably mellow juncture – to the sheen and bounce of second single Apollo, Wellness is a tremendous, invigorating return to form for Last Dinosaurs.