Forming a band as a teenager is a rough gig. The rare precocious group that displays any chops and garners any attention will have the attention turned on their age, and any shortcomings will immediately be dismissed based on their age. And they’ll be described with condescending words like ‘precocious.’ For a band like Queensland’s Operator Please, who formed to compete in their school’s battle of the bands, youth is still an inescapable talking point. Now releasing their second full length, Gloves, they have, at the very least, proven that they’re miles ahead of any racket your school band was making. It can be addressed that rather than singing songs about ping pong frontwoman Amandah Wilkinson is coping with relationship issues without dwelling on personal growth. The terms are vague, but decidedly sour, and it’s this lack of specificity that is so appealing: Spare us the details; we know you’re mad and that’s good enough. And perhaps it’s a sign of age that ennui has truly set in. The sentiment shared in ‘Volcanic,’ ‘I’m just a little bit tired/I’m just a little bit bored,’ is echoed elsewhere on Gloves, yet the band never actually sound as jaded as they claim to be.
In what has been a banner year for Nineties dance pop revivalism (which is the same as Eighties dance pop revivalism, but without the intentionally shit production values), Operator Please have found a neat spot within the niche. They have the ubiquitous synths and shiny guitars and a thick sheen coating even the most aggressive and frizziest bass lines.
Imagine, if you will, You Say Party! We Say Die! fronted by Paula Abdul. When it comes to dance pop ‘now wave’ bands, You Say Party! have consistently put out solid, edgy pop records that you can dance to. And if there is anything that distinguishes Operator Please, it is Wilkinson’s snarl, which shares certain qualities with that of Abdul, back when she sang sassy songs on the radio and before she became an talking head slurring next to Simon Cowell on American television.
Wilkinson’s voice is necessary to the image Operator Please projects; teenage brashness has been tempered just enough so that the remaining attitude lends a strength and personality to the songs. She has character and enthusiasm (not matter how bored she claims to be), which ties in nicely with the rhythms that pulsate like flashing neon lights.
And through all of that very forward presentation, the complexity of the mixing on Gloves shows an unlikely knack for subtlety: sneaking under the choppy chorus of lead single ‘Logic’ is a smooth, theremin-aping synth that provides a smooth continuity and even a bit of drama to the otherwise jerky melody. An aggravated bass line practically whispers on the ballad-bordering ‘Oh My.’ Even the occasional, clanging cowbell that seems like an afterthought to the listener has obviously been carefully integrated into the percussion. There may be youthful exuberance throughout, but in-your-face as their delivery is, Operator Please have proven to be clever on more than one front.
7Amanda Farah's Score