A man awakes from sleep to the sound of a herd of cows mooing in harmony. He immediately rushes to record their chorus, brings it to a recording session, and winds up using it in a song on his band’s next album, which he names…Moo, You Bloody Choir. It’s a story just bizarre enough to be true, and just poetic enough to befit a band like Augie March.
Formed twelve years ago and named after the main character in a Saul Bellow novel, it comes as no surprise that Augie March’s third full-length album is both beautifully executed (they’ve had some practice) and erudite in nature. While frontman Glenn Richards asserts that he draws less from literary influences than he does from everyday experience, he also takes the view that the lyrics and music are intertwined and are meant to both complement and contrast each other. The songs on Moo, You Bloody Choir feature the same careful instrumentation that gave its predecessor, Strange Bird, worldwide critical attention. As always, Augie March specializes in perfectly blended harmonies, providing a cozy background for delicately-voiced lyrics that nearly always take a disquieting turn. “If love is a bolt from the blue, then what is a bolt but a glorified screw / And that doesn't hold nothing together,” sings Richards on the album’s first single, “One Crowded Hour.”
“It’s a – there’s a word for it – juxtaposition!” shouts drummer David Williams by way of explanation. Richards concurs: “It’s meant to be confusing.”
The result is breathtaking, and in the band’s hometown of Melbourne, Australia, incredibly well-received. Most recently, they took home Australian Performing Rights Association awards for both Song of the Year and Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year. They’re no strangers to success, but generating awareness in the States has always been something of a challenge. After a disappointing lack of US response to Strange Bird in 2004, the band’s return with new label Jive/Zomba behind them has already generated results. “The last time we were here, we were on tour for five weeks and I think we had one interview,” says Richards. “This time, there’s much more going on, we have things lined up every day. It feels completely different.”
Still, the band’s achievements in other areas of the world stand on their own, and they’re pleased with the story so far. “We have no expectations,” Richards remarks on the frustrations of “breaking” the US a second time. “If we don’t make it this time, we won’t try a third.”
It’s hard not to imagine the whole world in love with Moo, You Bloody Choir’s wry lyrical twists and perfectly crafted melodies, but easy to understand the band’s perspective. Upon their return to Australia this fall, they’ll be celebrating the album’s deluxe edition release with their first-ever stadium tour, proving that the world is indeed listening.