To call the Cannanes veterans of the indie world would be putting it lightly; when they first hit the scene with their indie-pop songs, of which Kurt Cobain would eventually become a fan, Ronald Reagan was serving his first presidential term. Now nearly 30 years later, the Australian duo is still finding ways to create fresh music. Their latest release is an EP called Small Batch, a six-song compilation that ranges from mellow and calm to jazzy and upbeat. After an 11-year hiatus, the Cannanes have returned and showed us why they deserve to be regarded as true innovators of indie pop.
The opening song, “Bumper,” is as radiant as the sun on a hot August day. The jaunty strumming of the acoustic guitar is mixed with muted horns that mesh with Fran Gibson’s timid lyrics: “Is It worth another try? Even you don’t think so.” The last minute is filled with the soft shake of a tambourine and light drum hits that ease the song to a blissful finish.
The song that follows is called “Crawler,” and rightly so. The track is a slow and weary one that leisurely works its way up and down your body as Gibson’s ethereal voice drifts in and out. The spacey electronic percussion unwinds slowly and lets your mind enter into a peaceful zone. As the song ends, you’re snapped back to reality that you’ve already ventured nearly halfway through the EP.
What makes the Cannanes so special is their versatility. Not many bands last for over a decade, and the ones who do are inevitably ascribed a label. The Cannanes offset their label by featuring songs like “Molecule” and “Zone” amongst their guitar-filled indie-pop songs. These tracks blend aspects from hip-hop and jazz with their hazy electronic pop. “Molecule” features a slow, heavy, booming bass that creeps up on you throughout the song before finally dropping and creating a new texture on the cozy album.
The horns cry out loudly to introduce the closing song on the EP. “Zone” starts off slowly and then is suddenly interjected with percussion that you can imagine a b-boy getting down to. The eerie voice utters, “You’re confusing me.” But there is little to be confused about on this put-together EP. The band gives us a “small batch” of what we’ve been missing out on for the last decade. Producing a short but sweet assortment of engaging songs is exactly what the Cannanes needed to mark their return.