As this six-track debut sidles through sophisticated neo-pop, that does both playful and poignant with equal confidence, it’s clear that the person staring down the barrel of this fine musical kaleidoscope is one clever cookie.

The crumb trail leads to Melbourne-based producer-performer Tommy Spender, who understands the strength of a great song is in the balance of conception and presentation.

Like Beck, he’s got great ideas and influences, and in the lineage of Damon Albarn or Spoon’s Britt Daniel, the diverse skillset to execute them, which also means sharing the spotlight for unique results.

The sultry bounce of ‘Peace Of Your Mind’ elicits a brassy performance from Bangin’ Rackettes ringleader Clairy Browne, while the jazzy underpinnings and fluttering strings of ‘Hotel Home’ glide alongside a touching vocal turn from Gotye; singing a lyrical metaphor of the heart as a kite on a beautiful, understated number.

But there’s plenty of charming details and adroit sonic achievements here besides the collaborations. Take the striking stacked saxophone and soulful groove of ‘Never Again’ for one, or the sparkling melodies that illuminate ‘Magic Man’ like a shimmering beacon of pop sensibility.

If there’s a minor quibble, it’s that the sequencing seems a little skewwhiff. The busy aural cabaret of ‘Peace Of Your Mind’ opens the EP, asking more of the listener upfront where ‘Bed & Chair’ gladly offers up its appeal – with its crunching bass hook – but is buried at the tail-end.

Song for charismatic song however, Modern Pest will likely inch its impressively polished way into your ears with little effort but maximum effect.

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