Operator Please: The Apprentice Wizards of Oz

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Jon Tunney unearths an unlikely gem from Australia’s Gold Coast.


The History of Australian pop is littered with memorable moments.
Think Stefan Dennis moodily swinging the leather jacket over his shoulder as he growled – with no irony intended – ‘Don’t it make ya feel good?
Or the curly-headed bloke who played Madge’s son in Neighbours waving the guitar around to Mona.
And try to calm your queasy stomach as you recall the soft focus smiles of Kylie and Jason in their mock wedding video.
But I have made an amazing discovery that I am at liberty to reveal to you, Dear Reader. Not all Australian bands have to appear in a soap opera before they can get a record deal.
Cue Operator Please with their unfeasibly tight trousers and choppy hairstyles and their catchy hipster punk.
After listening to the standout single on their debut album Yes Yes Vindictive, you might be astonished to learn you are listening to a product of the dear old colonies.
The driving strings, catchy punk guitar and Amandah Wilkinson’s wailing female vocals on Leave It Alone sound more like they have their origin in a Brooklyn brownstone.
But Operator Please are nearly as far removed from New York as it is possible to be. Dammit, the Gold Coast isn’t even cool by Australian standards.
Obviously, they were far too geeky to join fellow classmates catching waves and chucking rugby balls around on the beach.
So they must have bucked the elemental law that means Australia can never produce good music because its young people are far too busy being healthy.
Whereas British youth is cooped up in a bedroom for six months of the year, with nothing to do but drink cheap cider and learn the guitar.
Despite their unpromising origins, Operator Please have produced a cracking debut. Although at times their inexperience shows through.
The aforementioned toe-tapping Leave it Alone is comfortably the best song on the album, with echoes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the fore.
In fact, a fair bit of Yes Yes Vindictive sounds as if the band have a few Karen O tracks on their iPods. Which is no bad thing.
The raucous Song About Ping Pong is another high point, despite its daft lyrics about playing table tennis and eating beef jerky.
Better still is the Kissy Sell-Out remix.
Just working on remixes despite their tender years – violinist Taylor Henderson won’t be 17 until next month – speaks volumes about the confidence of Operator Please.
And the fact they even boast a violinist in their line-up is testament to their maturity.
But at times the album sounds like the product of a teenage band. After the best two songs, only Get What You Want really stands out.
Operator Please formed at high school in 2005 and you wonder if they might have been better served building more of a back catalogue before releasing the album.
Having said that, it hasn’t stopped promoters booking them in for the Reading and Leeds festivals this year, or making the playlist of XFM.
So maybe Australia can produce good music after all. Lets hope that means we can start producing good cricketers.
Discover Operator Please

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