Pop/rock quartet End of Fashion had already become superstars in their native Australia before testing American waters with their 2006 self-titled debut. A streamlined mix of garage rock and pop, the disc sets itself skillfully apart from the mainstream through simple but distinct choices in song architecture and instrumentation, reminiscent of alternative Britpop bands like the Stone Roses and Oasis. For instance, twinkling electronic chimes on the slow-dance “Seize the Day” and stop/start guitar work on the up-tempo “Anything Goes” inject otherwise conventional rock songs with extra layers of creative texture, making the music dynamic and complex without compromising accessibility.
While straight-ahead rock is full of singers who do little more than shout on key, lead vocalist Justin Burford runs the gamut from raspy yowling to beautifully nuanced falsetto. He harnesses his highly expressive timbre with subtle control, using a strong vibrato to gracefully steer the musical moment from cathartic and evocative to opulent and carnival-esque. While Burford’s versatile wail tends to steal focus, it remains integrated with rest of the band, particularly drummer Nick Jonsson’s tight, less-is-more snare- and cymbal-heavy rhythm section.
The influences in play on End of Fashion are fairly extensive: the album samples flavors of alt-country, shoegazer, and new wave. Without these deviations, the record would be pure Britpop — if not for the fact that Australia’s commonwealth status does little more to link it with England than place a Union Jack on its flag. The Aussie band’s take on the English style is fresh, creating a sound unique enough to impress a whole new continent of fans.