(Half A Cow)
Re-released in digi-pack, May 2002.
The end of 1997 saw Art of Fighting enter the studio to begin recording their debut release. Working with Nick Carroll at his North Melbourne studio, the band have delivered a 6 song set exploring expansive, involved arrangements within fully realised songs.
review:Melbourne’s Augie March and Sydney’s John Reed Club set the standard for 1998 for debut recordings. Then, in the middle part of the year, Adelaide band Fuge increased that notch to a higher beam. Now, that mark has again been topped. Melbourne band art of fighting’s debut EP, the very strange year is a stunning achievement, worthy of You Am I’s first up effort for sheer performance and potential.
Of course, art of fighting are not yet another You Am I rip-off. Far from it – art of fighting’s sound is unique and diverse (and yet so refreshingly catchy and melodic). By the time you've listened through the melancholic pop of “Sliding” (in which the virgin listener can marvel for the first time at Ollie Browne’s gentle eloquent poetry which is uttered in a distinctly hushed Australian accent) to Peggie Frew’s gentle and quiet vocals on the perfectly titled “Not Exactly Fading Away”, you know that this is something special.
Everything about this band pointed to big things a year or so ago – a fantastic pop-rock demo tape which contained the instantly hummable “the chorus is suffering” and “ahamay”, then the elegant slow-burner “You and Me on Mars”. And this is where The Very Strange Year picks up – it sounds like art of fighting stopped recording “you and me on mars” and immediately started with The Very Strange Year. The only really fast-paced number is “Wild Beast” – and even that has a distinctly slow-burn feel to it.
One of the greatest things about art of fighting is that you really can’t pigeonhole their influences. Certainly Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins used to be there, but these days, it seems that Ollie, Peggy and Cam have started to listen to quiet, more introspective music, such as fellow Melbournians Sandro and Paradise Motel, and even, to a certain extent, Will Oldham.
This is one of the best debut releases ever. The only dilemma is what to do when first opening the package – do you remove the sticker or leave it there? But that, in reality, is irrelevant – the music speaks for itself in the most beautiful way possible. Utterly amazing. - the Electric Newspaper