With its lo-fi pop sound, The Lighthouse Keepers seem at odds with that prevailing aesthetic – maybe it’s that contrast, rather than the band’s self-acknowledged laconic attitude, that has condemned The Lighthouse Keepers to cult status.
The Lighthouse Keepers’ narrative concluded sometime in the mid 1980s, by which time it had recorded a few singles, an EP ( Exploding Lighthouse Keepers) and a full-length album (Tales of the Unexpected). Save for the increasingly vague memories of the inner-city Sydney crowd, The Lighthouse Keepers’ story has been kept in the dark until the recent release of Tim Pittman’s compilation, Ode to Nothing.
The irony of the title of the compilation (taken from a single released in 1985) is obvious – The Lighthouse Keepers lack the lingering popularity and influence of many of its contemporaries, yet there’s an honesty in Juliet Ward’s vocals and pop precision in the band’s melodies that warrants contemporary attention. Tracks such as Lip Snipe Groin and A Time of Evil exhibit a timeless pop beauty, while the pulsing lo-fi elegance of Love Beacon grabs you in a warm loving embrace. No Reason exudes a folk, almost sea-shanty happiness, Evil Touch skirts around the perimeter of darker territory inhabited by The Triffids and Whisky and Gin finds Ward playing chanteuse in a shabby chic Surry Hills hotel.
The Lighthouse Keepers are unlikely to outgrow their status as Australian musical footnote, but that’s no reason to ignore Ode to Nothing. The band’s light remains as bright as it ever did.
Best Track: Love Beacon
If You Like This, You’ll Like These: THE PASSENGERS, CALVIN JOHNSON, BEAT HAPPENING.
In A Word: Honest