[1 September 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
They may not be talked about as much as, say, the Clean, but the 3D’s are one of the great rock bands to come out of New Zealand, and We Bury the Living: Early Recordings 1989-1990 gives us a glimpse into how they became so damn good. The disc follows on the heels of Flying Nun’s reissue of the band’s three studio albums—all part of the label’s 30th anniversary celebration—and acts as a fine companion piece to those records. These 21 songs come from the band’s first two EPs and a collection of demos, some of which are unreleased. These are sometimes murky, sometimes a bit ragged, but they tell perfectly the story of the band’s great combination of squalling noise and sweet melodies. There are some downright excellent pop tunes here, including the driving “Sing Song”, the sweetly textured “Fish Tails” and the squalling expanse of early, previously unheard demo “The Bunnymen”. There are other early tunes that feel (obviously) unfinished, but there isn’t anything here that a fan of the band—or even someone looking to learn about them—wouldn’t want to hear. They are not quite the band that would go on to record The Venus Trail—one of the finest rock records of the ‘90s, period—but you can feel them building and toning their strengths in these songs. There are plenty of great bands from the Flying Nun label, and from New Zealand in general, but with an odds ‘n sods collection this solid, the 3D’s make a strong case that we should’ve been paying more attention to them all this time. Luckily now, with this set and the reissues, we can make up for lost time.