Steve Kilbey is one of Australia’s most prolific songwriters, from his eighties heyday with The Church through the ensuing decades, including not just The Church but also solo material and a ton of team-ups. His latest pseudo-solo work (and latest band name), Steve Kilbey & The Winged Heels, has put out the massive and diverse sixties psych The Hall of Counterfeits.
First things first, Hall is indeed big, 23 tracks, an hour and 23 minutes run time. It distinctly has the feel of a veteran artist getting to do what he wants and taking full advantage of it. It all means that the double-album is a bit of an undertaking for the listener, a ‘passion project.’
Yet the size, and Kilbey’s skill, means that there are a number of quality tracks, if also ones you might skip. Best is probably the hopeful sixties psych-pop in pieces such as “Anglesea”, the wry “Everything’s For Sale”, and “Beginning of Mercy”. There are other standouts, like the pressing pop mission of “Brass Razoo” and the tragic “Love Song Yet To Be Named” closer, not to mention when he veers into more of a Middle Eastern sound (definite sitar feeling) with the likes of “Warren”, “Horizon Meets the Ground”, “Amorous Plethora”, “Tears of Mer Ek” and others.
The acoustic psych angle and large size means there is some wandering (“Ariadne”) and drone (“A Temple”) that the record could have probably done without. But this is an overstuffed vision from one of today’s leading songwriter.