Sound — 8
As a fairly recent Australian band (winning Australian radio station Triple J's "Unearthed" competition a few years ago), Eskimo Joe have in their last release "A Song Is A City" found their feet, and with "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" have matured, possibly too much for their status and age, however musically their maturity has proved a great success. Their debut album "Girl", along with EPs "Eskimo Joe" and "Sweater" were a confusingly blatant, yet discreetly alternative twist on the raw basics of Pop Rock, laden with pop cliches and lively, mostly simple guitar lines. "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" sees a severe and slihtly annoying drop in guitarwork, however the driving, intellient yet comfortingly down to earth basswork of singer/writer/bassist Kayven Temperey have held the album together expertly, especially in tracks such as Setting Sun and Sarah, also two of the best tracks on the album.The sound of "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" is often verging on loungechair at some points, but always hanging on to the rock stylings of their earlier work. "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" sees more piano work than ever before, be it in the form of beatuiful ballads such as London Bombs, or as a submersive addition to the overall ambience in tracks such as "This is Pressure" and "Setting Sun". Overall, Eskimo Joe's sound in "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" is better than ever, despite sometimes (only mildly), a little bit dull, yet ever-impressive.
Lyrics — 9
Simply, the lyrics in "Black Fingernails, Red Wine" are a continuation of the change developed between their first and second albums. The words are now deeper, more poetically visual, and more thoughtful, with tracks like Setting Sun, London Bombs, This is Pressure, Beating Like A Drum. Kayven's singing is beautiful as ever, accentuated by his signature odd pronunciations of words, that as a born and bred Aussie, even I can't recognise. Some prime examples of ambient, intelligent lyrics, coupled with a ranged yet constantly satisfying vocal display are "Beating Like A Drum" and "Setting Sun." Overall, the vocals and lyrics are hard to fault, however I would have liked to see some of the innocent, high pitched vocals as in old tracks such as "From the Sea" and "Older Than You."
Overall Impression — 9
I frst bought this album for my Sister for Christmas 2006, and put it on my iPod for the sake of it, listened to it twice and loved it. I never thought I'd get into Eskimo Joe like I now have, as my initial thoughts on their style was "Pop, lame, lame, pop". Retrospectively, I believe that they have been givenvery little credit for the caliber of their talent and songwriting abilities, and if they continue to improve as rapidly with future albums as they have thus far (after only 3 albums), they should by all means hold a place in the Australian Rock Hall Of Fame (assuming there is one, I don't think ACDC and Powderfinger will be quite enough to establish one just yet). Unless you're hellbent on craploads of guitar, don't like softrock, or are against the idea of artists "maturing", you should love this album.