Agnes Kain reviews

After having the good fortune to see Sydney indie pop duo Agnes Kain at the Grace Emily late last year, I was keen to have a listen to some recorded material. Their debut album Keep Walking Or I'll Kill You surpasses their self deprecating live set with a string of quietly confident pop tunes that remain the right side of twee.

The slightly ominous title belies the delightful songs, which are mostly piano driven and lead by Chanelle Afford's girlish vocal, punctuated with everyday imagery and gentle dialogues. 'Puddles And Mud' is a romp through the wet in 'yellow galoshes', the title track a tender memory of a young boy in class commanding 'keep walking or I"ll kill you' as a diversion from his true feelings about his father's death because, as the plaintive refrain goes, "boys don't cry". 'To Me' is inspired by Cat Power's slow diminished chords and soulful, yearning style, but most of the songs here are upbeat, inventive and inevitably adorable, even if they do mask more solemn considerations. 'All Time High' has a skipping gait accompanying sombre lyrics about the brutality of modern city life, a winning tactic of this lovable duo, while 'Favourite' is a sunny love song accented by glockenspiel and melodica.

The debut album for childhood friends Afford and Stefan Simunic was recorded in their spare room in outer Sydney, a fact will not surprise anyone who listens to it. Keep Walking... has a rich intimacy and depth with guitars, percussion, mandolin and other keyed instruments filling out the simple, stunning tracks. The gentle, carnivalesque closer 'Time' is a fitting full stop - a big concept bridled by perfect whimsy, like all of the best melancholic pop songs. Narelle Walker