Springbok Nude Girls - Peace Breaker

2009-01-30 08:40
Until the Nude Girls, South Africa had turned out its share of good alternative, protest, fusion, and of course African jazz and traditional-style music. But we were a bit awkward and wimpy when it came to real, raw rock.

The SNG's addictive mix of sensitivity and searing songs instantly raised the iron bar for those to follow. Then they dropped their best of and claimed to disband (we all know they carried on seeing each other occasionally.)

Peace Breaker is many fans' wet dream - a release that rewards our loyalty and brings the band's sound up to date via Arno and Theo's solo experience, with the softer New Porn and the hardcore Kobus! respectively. It's hard to tell who wrote which track, and the liner notes don't separate the credit, perhaps indicating an increased willingness to share.

Their sound has gained panache but lost none of its kick, as they prove with the brutal "Gang Gang" (Theo?), then the mocking "Looking for Master" (Arno?), both of which leave you glad that Arno's lyrics are open to interpretation. The first single "Illuminate" - a stomping stadium hit - shows off the increased skillfulness of Arno's vocal performance. "The Fallen" is an anthem for lovers of good lyrics opposed to judgement. "The Road" blearily explores more experimental darkness. The title track adds a squeezebox effect to an exquisite ballad that builds to a woo woo woo crescendo. Clichés abound in the poppy, ominous "1 More Time". Though Peace Breaker is more richly and dramatically orchestrated than on earlier Nude Girls' work, Theo Crous and Neil Snyman have floated the songs on the effects, not drowned them (perhaps learning a lesson from Brian O' Shea's rather heavy handed actions on Arno's last solo effort) - even the drug ballad "Pack the Punches" survives without getting too wet.

The Nude Girls have done a lot of things right on this comeback. By reuniting before they were wrinklies, they've spared themselves mockery and empty gigs. By remaining on the scene through convincing solo careers, they've remained in the public's heart. But most importantly of all? They're doing their best work since their double-CD best-of collection, though only time will tell if the songs have the Velcro stick of "Blue Eyes", or "Lonely" or "Bubblegum on My Boots".

Finally, a warning to fans of the single "Illuminate": Peace Breaker the album is mostly a lot harder than its single. It's designed to whip you up, not melt your heart, but it will.

Jean Barker


Interview with Arno in April '07

Gallery: behind the scenes photos

Video: Watch "Illuminate", and meet the video's director

Album: Arno Carstens' The Hello Goodbye Boys

MP3 download by Kobus!

Theo, Arno, Adriaan, Arno, and Francois are back, bang on time. The fat lady's not singing... she's spitting, mashing, crying and screaming.

Jonathan 2007/04/25 9:07 AM
Nudies FTW!!! I doubt SA will ever produce a better more diverse band. They should headline the Coke Fest! The best thing about them is when u listen to the cd and think it can't get better than this, you get off your @$$ and watch a live show and it just completely blows you away. I've seen them numerous times and keep on coming back for more. Peace Breaker is AWESOME and i cant wait to hear "Gang Gang" next Tuesday! w00t!!!
Chris 2007/04/25 9:18 AM
Not sure about this bit... "But we were a bit awkward and wimpy when it came to real, raw rock." - What about Live Jimi Presley, Not Even the TV, Squeal, Sweatband, Boomslang, and many, many more I could mention. Let's not confuse marketing with history.
Jean 2007/04/25 9:22 AM
Sweatband? Sweatband's lyrics were, to put it mildly, embarassing. Sure, many of the Nude Girls lyrics make no sense, but that's never been a problem in rock. Not for me, anyhow. If I want clear thought, I'll read a book.
Chris 2007/06/13 12:18 PM
Listen... bin There are 100s of better bands out there... but white South Africans love their Nostalgia-Lane... I'm sorry but this album sucks. Go out and listen to what's currently happening in SA rock. It ROCKS... not like SNG who merely bring out an album or a tour every time they need more money...
Ricki 2008/09/26 3:26 PM
International top shelf Almost a perfect album. Chris, dont know what your issue is, but on no level is this album sucky. It rocks, and it is a flag flyer for SA. GangGang is polished steel.
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