Australian duo looks to nature for inspiration and succeeds a little too well.
The four seasons -- those old favorites, spring, summer, autumn and winter -- get a gentle if somewhat mundane treatment from Australian folksy-popsy duo the Big Scary on The Four Seasons, an appropriately named compilation of the four season-themed EPs released during 2010. Combining soft guitar chords, soft piano chords, soft singing and the occasional dramatic cymbal crash, Tom Iansek and Jo Syme evoke the wistful, self-defeating optimism of an indie spring ("Spring"), the contemplative, earth-toned picturesqueness of a Sufjan-Stevens-themed fall ("Autumn"), and the bleak-but-beautiful delicacy of an exceptionally moody winter ("Winter"). The EPs are self-contained capsules, each with a different sound. For summer the duo plugs in the amps and takes off on a downright White Stripes-inspired binge. The result is an album full of jarring transitions. Even taken in chunks, the concept makes it too explicitly, outwardly pointed not to feel parochial; "Summer", for example, with its muted, yearning organ and shivering piano keys, is a made-to-order reflection piece on the high bloom of natural life. Without the rest of the EP as context, it would be corny. Despite some clever turns of phrase and a charming chameleon quality, The Four Seasons suffers from the abstracted, sentimental natue-gazing of the record's cyclical origins.