After 25 Years largely lost in the mist, and with their 1986 – 93 Flying Nun Records catalogue long out of print, The Puddle have finally emerged with their first proper ‘studio album’ after two acclaimed home-recorded albums in recent years. Rest assured, The Puddle idiosyncrasies still shine through, just with greater clarity now.
How the Puddle ended up in one of NZs best recording studios is a story in itself – producer Richard Steele fulfilling a long-held desire to see justice finally done to the band he once played saxophone in briefly in the early 90’s while a student in Dunedin.
The Puddle (at the time consisting of George D. Henderson on guitar, vocals and keyboards, Heath Te Au on drums and Ross Jackson on bass) took full advantage of 3 days of studio time to record two-dozen songs, from which a dozen were selected and finished off for this album. And what an album it is.
For those of us who have had faith in George’s talent and his vision for The Puddle for a quarter of a century now, patiently enjoying the occasional bruised fruits along his unconventional but persistent journey, “Playboys in the Bush” is the sweet vindication.
"The Puddle exist in isolation – not just from their Flying Nun peers in New Zealand, who can be bracketed as either the jangly Dunedin sound or as obtuse art-rock, but through George Henderson’s outsider status. Curious, then, that Playboys In The Bush starts with What I Believe, which has a hint of The Bats’ North By North.
That, though, is the only concession to The Puddle’s homeland bands. There are, of course, suggestions of other bands in their songs: The Smiths (Rainbow Bridge Airlines), The Kinks and T-Rex (English Speaking World), The Velvet Underground and Roxy Music (In Dreams), The Clientele (Sleepy People (Remember Dreams)), and Microdisney (Monogamy). The only common thread to these songs and the album as a whole, though, is that no band other than The Puddle would’ve dared imagine that such a configuration of ideas and ambitions could be organised into a pattern of psychedelic pop.
Playboys In The Bush was recorded five years ago. If it had been a lost album by Julian Cope – another outsider – then its release would have precipitated excited magazine features. Cope will probably feature it as an Unsung album of the month sometime in the next decade." (Fire Escape Talking blog)
“fans of Pavement and the 1990s American slack school can squint and see the southern-hemisphere source of those insouciant grooves, and the decision to retell Norse mythology chug-guitar-style on the nine-minute Valhalla is inspired.” Sunday Times (UK)
“...a heavy, confusing, heady and eccentric album. It has all the usual parts you’d expect: drums, bass, guitars, singing, verses, choruses etc; but it puts them together in such a hallucinatory way it sounds like something quite new... to follow it intently is to fall down the rabbit-hole for 12 songs. Mandatory listening for undergraduate boys.” 5/5 Waikato Times
"further evidence that The Puddle are enjoying the kind of career high which other bands experience in their youth then lose" www.elsewhere.co.nz
“The track about about what Thor, Odin, and his mates get up to in the wee small hours (think Iggy singing Beowulf) is the mad but gripping centrepiece of this set... shows the second wind that frontman George D Henderson's band have shown on their noughties albums is still blowing strong... Might be time to sign up for that cult following.” 4.5/5 NZ Herald
“...a rollicking cohesive swagger, quirky yet very comfortable with itself. Like the best bits of Flying Nun. Emphasis on lurid simplicity, curly Q&A, unexpected nuance in amongst the somewhat twisted innocence and pure iron. Beautiful cover art by Tanya Hoarfrost, especially if gorgeous frolicking nymphs is your thing. Get it.”
“Right from the get-go, Henderson’s lyrics and delivery grab you by the short and curlies: unmoderated, direct, contentious, outrageous. The overall picture is of a slightly deranged individual, with his shaky, manic vocals reinforcing this raw art... There is a very bottom-of-the-world hopelessness about these songs, but in their own way, they’re great songs, and even, sometimes, pop songs... Like a punk-edged Syd Barrett who has lost, then found himself again (while remaining seriously askew), George Henderson and his Puddle have managed to squeeze out a short but potent work... There’s nothing else quite like it.” www.witchdoctor.co.nz