The Whitlams are one of Australia's favourite bands, whose appeal reaches audiences of all ages and tastes. With lyrics described as having a “charming cynicism” and enhanced by an instinct for poignant melody, they won Best Group at the 1998 ARIA Awards, as well as Song of the Year and Best Independent Release for their 3rd album 'Eternal Nightcap'.
| “The [new] album is about New York, fancy lovers and a rodent ... It’s a simple, tasteful album that goes back to The Whitlams of Eternal Nightcap. There’s a strong thread of piano porch music.” - Tim Freedman, on Little Cloud
If you were looking for Tim Freedman in the early months of 2004 you might have found him doing a few strange things.
He was in New York City in the freezing months of winter, casting shadows in the steam rising from the subways. He was watching an American eagle hitch a ride on an ice drift down the Hudson River. And more peculiarly, he was walking into bars, touching the back wall and walking back out the front without stopping to order a drink.
The result is The Whitlams’ new double album Little Cloud, the Sydney band’s sixth studio album after Love this City (1999) and Torch the Moon (2002), the two platinum follow ups to the huge independent hit Eternal Nightcap which won them three ARIAs in 1998. It’s a return to the piano and voice, story-telling style Freedman and The Whitlams fans love.
“It’s mostly music for the porch,” he says. “The last two albums were a bit lairy with orchestras and choirs. This one actually sounds like it was written alone in a room on my piano. Some of the lyrics are a bit blue but I was enjoying myself too, mostly keeping to myself at nights, wandering around Broadway, looking at the city.”
The album is broken into two discs. The first, “Little Cloud”, is about returning to Sydney with mixed feelings of love and disillusion in an election year. The second, “Apple’s Eye”, is set in New York, and is about slowly getting strong and well “under a tapestry of stone hung from the sky”. It’s short for a double album - each side is approximately 28 minutes long - and that’s how Freedman wanted it. “16 songs is too long for a single album and the short double format allowed us to arrange it thematically and deliver it in 2 shots”.
“The songs came slowly at first because I was exhausted, but as my mood lifted they poured out. ‘Fondness Makes the Heart Grow Absent’ is a miniature of the New York months in that I start out disconnected and finish the day revived in Balthazar (his favourite restaurant), ripping at a bread roll and making a little private toast.” And then there are songs about fancy lovers. “It wouldn’t be The Whitlams if there wasn’t trouble with girls.”
“The album is about New York, fancy lovers and a rodent.”
The album has been produced by J. Walker of Machine Translations, the Melbourne indie music master who made it his job to put immediacy and intimacy back into the songs, and the piano back up to the front. The result is classic Whitlams.