Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders: Hijack! review – black humour and drama from acclaimed auteur

M

Marcus Teague

Guest
On an album born from a ‘series of disasters’, the shapeshifting gloom merchant interrogates his trope with dry wit and lush, orchestral strings

The Australian music industry is unkind to its auteurs. We have little patience for the artist with no hits; who routinely reinvents and rejects their supposed genre; who isn’t really a solo performer but not really a band. Hijack! is the sixth album from Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders, AKA Sydney songwriter Tim Rogers (no, not the You Am I one) and friends. And in the wake of its release – beyond the accompanying videos, singles, reviews – it will stand purely as a new door into an already spectacular body of work.

Since 2005 the towering, baritone-voiced Ladder has released five albums, spanning spindly folk, jittery-60s blues rock, gothic electro-pop, crooning new-wave and chintzy synth tunes. Each expertly nails a sound and atmosphere, before being discarded wholesale for the next. Terrible moves for building a fanbase in a small market. But those who stick with Ladder’s universe find a cult devoted to the clever arrangements, startling sounds, hidden hooks and uneasy dissonance of an archetypal gloom merchant interrogating his trope with dry wit. And also just five wall-to-wall great records of arch, wonky songs.

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