Why do I want to cite Kate Miller-Heidke's Nightflight as intelligent Abba? I mean, that would be kind of an insult, wouldn't it? Well, not really, 'cause the secret behind Abba's jaw-dropping success is its approach, a hugely overblown cabaretic overture to life's commonplaces, the conflating of the ordinary with the stellar. People tend to like that quite a bit, it elevates the mundanity of their job-dominated existences to a thin but enveloping sense of the Byronic, tells them a veneered fairy tale, whispers that maybe their wageslavery isn't quite so pathetic as they, deep down, know it really is. Funny how art, which should shake people awake, can also narcotize in the very same way. Well, Miller-Heidke removes the superficiality of the symphonic treacle of such as the Swedish money-music cartel, grounding things back into much more honest joys, paranoias, regrets, and meditations while retaining the celestial pale.
Unfortunately, her poetry leaves much to be desired, too often forced and facile…not that that's necessarily unexpected, not in the face of 90% of the rock oeuvre, certainly not as regards the public's avid consumption of such, definitely not as against the upliftingly melancholy ambiances in Nightflight, which are simultaneously thrilling and laconic, but you might want to skip reading the verses in the 16-page liner. Miller-Heidke's musical execution is what's important, highly Kate Bush-esque with a bit of Goldfrappe tossed in, maybe even a more lighthearted Lene Lovich here and there. It's not hard to see why she's a hit in her homeland, Australia, scoring #1 singles. Radio waves in the States could do with a LOT more material like this; thus, you might want to ignore my English teacher lit crit remarks: haven't had my morning coffee yet, and facile versifying rankles until the caffeine jolts my brain.
Nonetheless, this is a lovely CD, no two ways about it, and I'd place it somewhat near Annie Lennox's Medusa just in terms of sheer beauty, pensivity, and atmospherics. The ballads, In the Dark being one, come wrapped just as much in finery and silk, but understated, as they should be, gossamer and affecting, evoking a wrench of the heart beside dreamy symphonics. Do I like Nightflight? I love it, I'm a sucker for such heavenly works, being the kind of guy who, after getting his head pounded by Unearth, King Crimson, the Swans, and Iron Maiden, likes to crawl into eiderdown and recover, remembering that not everything is apocalyptic and drenched in sweat. But will I ever again crack open that sheaf of struggling sidewalk poesy? Not on your life.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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