Growing up in a post-Nirvana world, musicians and music lovers alike were eager to remind everyone that the 1980s sucked and nothing good came from that depressing decade. Putting aside the fact that hip-hop was being born, punk was in its prime and metal was coming of age, those of us who shamelessly enjoyed the talents of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Madonna just had to deal with being told by everyone that the 80s were the worst. Now it’s 2015, and it seems that the 80s are finally being recognised as the golden era of creation they were. Pearls are part of a fresh crop of retro inspired bands moving through the Melbourne scene and there is good reason that The Curtin was sold out for their debut album’s launch.

As I made my way upstairs to the bandroom, it became evident that most people were already inside for Geoffrey O’Connor, who was about halfway through his set. The band sported a synth and drum machine sound so 80s it was as if they had come to the future in a DeLorean, while O’Connor subtly delivered some guitar licks with a tone evocative of Brothers In Arms-era Mark Knopfler. Every song I got to hear, including a couple of choice cuts from last year’s LP, Fan Fiction, was awesome and even sans guitar (due to technical issues) O’Connor rocked as a frontman.

Feather boas adorned mic and instrument stands as Pearls took the stage and the instant they started playing the crowd were drawn in. On top of some of the crispest sounding drums I’ve heard in a while (and at The Curtin no less), Pearls layered some cool synths and shoegazey guitars and switched seamlessly between male and female lead vocals to create a glorious pastiche of 80s sounds that in no way sounded dated.

The four-piece were equal parts engaging and enigmatic, at times chatting to the enraptured audience between songs or alternately dragging out the guitar parts and melding two tracks together and it worked beautifully in both instances. Every second of their set of dreamy glam-pop tunes was a joy to behold but album tracks ‘Big Shot’ and ‘Straight Through The Heart’ still stood above the rest.

For both proud and closeted 80s fans, it seems that our woes are finally coming to an end as more people see the light, and while bands like Pearls are getting attention it’s only going to get better. With that in mind though, to pigeonhole Pearls as an 80s revival act is doing them a huge disservice. They don’t use their inspirations as a gimmick, they use them to create fantastic and original music and their live show is definitely worth the price of admission. Do yourself a favour, see this band as soon as you can. You will not regret it.

Wes Fahey

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