Flying Nun Records, arguably the best ambassador of New Zealand’s music scene, is continuing to document both the past and present of that country’s distinctive pop sound. Recently, their efforts have landed on a fascinating glimpse into the work being done by women on this island nation with the release of Still Bewitched, a compilation pulling together the work of the ‘80s-era group Look Blue Go Purple, and Morningside, the debut full-length from lo-fi solo artist Fazerdaze.
Inspired by The Raincoats and The Slits, Look Blue Go Purple formed in 1983 and toured regularly with labelmates The Bats and The Chills. They released their debut EP Bewitched on Flying Nun in 1985 to New Zealand pop chart success. The band released LBGPEP2 in 1986 and This is This a year later, but by the end of the decade, they were finished.
More than 30 years later, a double LP with songs handpicked from their discography by the members of the group with additional eight live tracks has arrived here in the States via Captured Tracks. And it somehow still feels and sounds as modern as it did back then. Their light and warm folk pop, with layered harmonies and their signature chiming Dunedin guitar style fits squarely alongside many of today’s indie pop artists like Real Estate and their labelmate Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze.
Named for the suburb she finished the record in, this bedroom project shakes with a gentle reverb and the snapping beats and upbeat percussion she programs using a drum machine. What connects Murray to her peers in LBGP are the similarly earnest lyrics, psychedelic dreaminess and low key production quality made modern with synths and other electronic touches. Flip back and forth between tracks like the spritely, lovelorn “Lucky Girl” from Morningside and “Cactus Cat” from LBGPEP2 and they feel like two sides of the same coin.
While Fazerdaze is currently achieving some welcome success thanks to some radio spins of the singles from Morningside back home, her stint in the Red Bull Music Academy and a busy touring schedule for 2017, there’s the hope that her rising tide will lift Look Blue Go Purple to the attention of a new listeners. The lines between the two aren’t difficult to trace if you just take a listen.