Tom Morgan and Nic Dalton may be the mainstays of Sneeze, if for no other reason than that they do most of the songwriting. Still, there's such a cornucopia of players involved in this album, with the personnel switching around on virtually every track, that Sneeze seem like more of a collective pool than a proper band. Nothing wrong with that, but it does mean that there's such a breadth of styles and songs on this 18-track disc that it sometimes sounds like a various-artists compilation rather than the work of a specific artist. The genre that seems closest to their heart is early-'70s soul music, particularly the overly romantic and emotional kind. It's the early 2000s, though, so you get some postmodern twists, such as the gender-blurred "Too Much Man to Be My Woman" and the more explicit "I Want to Be a Woman" (sung from a man's point of view). That's not the whole picture, though. There are also some almost embarrassingly blatant, whether intentional or not, Elvis Costello-esque vocals; an apparently straight approximation of those 1970s songs when the woman would begin by talking no-nonsense heart-to-heart romantic confessions before breaking into song (on "(Don't Go) Distant)"; kinda Bowie/glam-era cops ("B.U."); fetching, dreamy pop on "I Believe in Marrickville (Parts 1 & 2)," sung by Lucy Lehmann, who unfortunately does not sing on any other track; and "Casual Cashew Daddy," which sounds like Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" wed to typically indie pop
ock wordplay. As emulators of early-'70s soul singing, Sneeze are kinda likable and kinda annoying, particularly the higher they get in the vocal register. It's an odd record, and hard to know what to make of it -- not as pretentious as Magnetic Fields, say, and better than Lambchop, if you have to find parallels among collective-type indie rock eclectics, but bound not to attract as much attention.