In some ways, the Aussie-duo Geowulf embodies the kind of relative and redefined version of success possible in the contemporary music sphere.
Stark Kendrick and Toma Banjanin’s effortlessly easy-listen “Saltwater” amassed millions of Spotify streams before the duo had even performed live, and its feature on a Corona advert further proved its sync-ability, thrusting the track into almost every ‘feels good’ and ‘having a super chill time with your buddies on the beach’-style playlist out there, and no doubt on a practical level put the band in good stead with their label and publishers early on.
But though syncs and streams may proffer a kind of quantitative success, they do however omit a human aspect necessary for any sense of depth or personal reward. Indeed, a large part of the reason Geowulf has taken a while to develop from being a studio-band has been the practical element of distance. With Banjanin based in London and Kendrick hopping between there and Australia, Berlin and Sweden, it’s hardly surprising the long process of recording the band’s debut record came with difficulty. As Kendrick explains, “It’s either been all on me or all of a sudden feeling really alone or isolated from the project”.
Thankfully, though, it is a human aspect that comes through on their hard-earned debut Great Big Blue.
Though on paper the melancholy inherent in Kendrick’s sense of melody might sound at odds to the bright and euphoric instrumentation provided by Banjanin (and enhanced by the vast-sounding production of Duncan Mills), the two come together brilliantly, particularly on the picturesque opener “Sunday”, and later on the Fleetwood Mac-esque “Don’t Talk About You”. “I still think about you all the time / And I still have you right here on my mind”, Kendrick sings on the latter, “But I don’t talk about you no more”. This succinct and honest lyric style makes up most of the record, and whilst it leaves something to be desired on the lacklustre pop of “Drink Too Much”, it’s pretty effective on the lesser-twee numbers such as the dramatic, synth-waltz “Only High” and powerful closer “Working Progress”: "We've been brave / Baby, hold your breath / Our love's a work in progress".
Though the easy-to-follow lyrics and even easier-to-follow melodies throughout Great Big Blue make it ripe for every summer playlist under the sun, the result is of genuine collaboration and friendship, giving it a charm beyond its obvious summery sheen.