greencirclesDidn't have much time for mods, generally. Growing up in Sydney in the heyday of great, Birdman-inspired music in the 1980s, their thing seemedmore contrived than anything else (although, in retrospect, there was a great deal of energy in evidence on the Sussex Street scene, when it crawled up the stairs and seeped into the Trade Union Club.) The Green Circles are a mod-influenced band from Adelaide, and the good news (for me) is they're more V-6 than Vespa.

Appearances can be deceptive and the cover art made me think these Green Circles were more Monkees than Music Machine. The cartoonish "Get Billy to the Gig on Time" game on the slick, as well as the montage of 45 picture sleeves on the inlay tray (featuring the Green Circles in poses ripped off from a collector's dream bargain bin), produced more confusion. So too the pictures of bric-a-brac that included a Small Faces badge, Kinks ticjet stub and Three Stooges key ring (that's where it went!)

Fears of another overt nostalgia act were, thankfully, swept away on the first listening. This is pop with a determined beat/garage bent. "Get on the Outside" sounds fresh and Mark Gilbert's sometimes snotty vocals keeps it going too close to polished. Sure, the Circles dips their collective lid to obvious precursors (The Creation being an obvious one) but they manage to just stay ahead of the game.

"Pocket Full of Nothing" is a bitter tale of love's rejection, nastied up with stinging guitar. "9:50" is a cute cover, "Wunderkind" a Pete Townsend cop and the organ-and-tremelo-fuelled "Make the Night" (which manages to rhyme "Vespa" and "whisper"!) strike a chord. A couple of the ballady cuts lose me ("taste of Black", "She Breathes") but think how far you'd need to go to hear a band work Australian football analogies into a relationship song ("Wooden Spoon".) I could do without the sampling of crowd noises and commentary, but that's just me.

Just when you had them pegged as potential supports to The Innocents, The Green Circles pull out a tune like "Averted Eye Girl", where an Asheton-esque "Funhouse" guitar line spars with "I hate you/I love you" lyrics that give way to some nice lead-work by Andrew Piper. "Stephanie Comes" is no Velvets slight return but a fully-fledged psyche work-out where vocals duck in and out of the droning mix, underpinned by acoustic guitar.

An energetic disc with lots of variety, much of which has roots on the UK side of the Atlantic. They even did it with the assisstance of a government grant! You could do much worse than give it a spin.