Alex Gow is a musician with incredible attention to detail. Best known for Oh Mercy, his new project Perfect Moment marries Australian kitsch with indie cocktail dance music. Think Leonard Cohen fronting New Order.

The album KANGOUROU is an audacious excursion through love, loss, and lockdowns and contains a song originally written for John Farnham. Alex Gow takes you track by track through your new favorite album.

“Nightclub”

Kangourou opens with Alex Gow uttering “Take me out to a nightclub, you know I’ve never been” as his cocktail dance album commences with a song that also references Velvet Underground’s Some Kind of Love. “It is this quasi-dance music, indie disco album and I don’t like dancing,” Gow says, owning the irony. “You’ll never see me on a dance floor. I like watching people dance, there’s a sense of the voyeur there. I’d like to think the entire record has a visual and sonic audacity to it. Opening the record with that line, over the top of a Depeche Mode meets New Order meets the Reels dance rhythm was appropriately audacious. The Reels’ Beautiful was a record I kept returning to. I’m attracted to talented songwriters who ended up occupying these weird nooks and crannies of the Australian music industry, for better or worse professionally.”

“Bushfire Ballet”

More Peter Hook-inspired cavernous bass, with pedal steel courtesy ‘Evil’ Graham Lee (The Triffids) and a kookaburra courtesy Instagram. “Bushfire Ballet is a phrase I used to describe a series of stretches an ex-girlfriend would do in the morning. It was the summer where it was all about bushfires and tragedy, and my ex doing these sublime stretches. When that relationship ended, I thought about what would be the thing I miss most? Once I had that metaphor, I just had to fill in the gaps.”

“Not This Time”

One of Kangourou’s most elegant moments – a dissertation of self-sabotage, boasting sultry saxophone and guest vocals from Sarah Pink. “I was thinking about the inclination of self-sabotage, which I’ve been guilty of. Serial self-sabotage. The idea is that when things get to a particular stage, in this case, a romantic relationship, some of us are born with instincts to ruin that and start again. I took it out of the autobiographical stage at that point. I’d been reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography, he seemed to be a serial self-sabotager as well. In one chapter he was attempting to convince himself this time things would change. I thought I’d carry through with those ideas. Maybe for some people, they’ll find it comforting, this idea of motivating yourself to not slip back into these patterns of poor behavior.”

“Time & Date NY”

Originally released as an acclaimed single in 2020, Gow knew the song (produced with the Presets’ Kim Moyes) needed a home on the debut Perfect Moment album. “I’m probably most proud of it lyrically. I wrote it originally as a pitch for John Farnham, they were looking for songs for his next album. That’s why it has lyrics about Anzac Day and Grand Final eve. I wondered if he could make it sound like an anthem. He probably never heard it, but I didn’t want to let the lyrics slide so I started singing it myself. It’s written from the perspective of someone in Australia trying to indulge in a long-distance relationship. If I know what the time and date in New York is, I can imagine what the light is like, and if I can imagine what the light is like I can imagine how it looks against this person’s face.”

“Star Of Bethlehem”

While there are several Christmas references sprinkled through the album; here Gow truly commits to the theme. “I have a little bit of an obsession with Christmas and Christmas decorations. I was enchanted by all the religious art, the stained-glass windows, the music, the heat, the cricket…. for whatever reason I can’t shake some of my child-like, naive adoration of that time of the year. Musically, it felt like it had the space the record needed. Roxy Music’s Avalon was the mood I was going for.”

“Infinite Attraction”

Another track where the bass player is having the most fun; this is a sleek bedroom soundtrack – think Pet Shop Boys with slide guitar. “The rest of the record is kind of tender, I just needed one of those lusty songs – considering I’m making somewhat of a disco record, I needed to bring the lust and intimacy. Singing it quiet and breathy was a conscious decision, lots of Oh Mercy I was singing my heart out, I wanted to explore a different part of my voice.”

“Who But You”

Gow channels his hero Robert Forster with the lyric “Don’t move to Sydney, don’t leave for LA, I know you’ve always been a beach girl but St Kilda is OK.” “When I write a lyric like that, I always think of Robert Forster’s eyebrow. Whenever he’s happy with a lyric in one of his songs he’ll raise an eyebrow to the crowd. When you’re writing that it helps to get a bit of the Robert Forster eyebrow going to get into the spirit of things. It has a very over-the-top and campy intro, a nod to Cyndi Lauper’s I Drove All Night. Lyrically, it’s set in bed – a lot of the songs are – which is a lockdown thing. The title came from a Leonard Cohen poem, the chorus is a bit of a sidestep, it came from a different song and I kind of Frankenstein’d them together.”

“Cruel Change Of Heart”

Another early single, reclaimed to have a home with friends. “It’s one of the few songs that has an electric guitar on it. I wrote all the songs on the piano, then I’d add the disco kick drum. The trick was how to subtract the tools that helped me write the song, like the piano or guitar. I felt like the guitar wanted for a bit of a moment like this. It has those moody Twin Peaks strings for a hook. I just simply felt it was too good to leave off the record.”

“A Beautiful Fluke”

Contains a lyrical reference to “my sharehouse Madonna” which even Gow pats himself on the back for. Co-written with Alex Cameron from Bad//Dreems and started life while Gow was touring with Augie March. “I was looking at religious art, Madonna with child, I just thought how can I modernize that idea? Most of the record is based around this particular time in my life spent with a particular person. Sharehouse Madonna was the title I had for a painting I was attempting to paint of her, but I’m a horrible painter. I just assumed that like in songwriting, if you had a great title everything else would come. I was deeply wrong.”

“Spring Not A Day Too Soon”

Brooding vintage synths (courtesy Jack Ladder) and chosen to close the album for a reason. “It concludes the record nicely; it was more or less the conclusion of the lifecycle of the relationship that dominates the rest of the lyrics. It broke down, there was plenty of looking back and writing during the looking backstage. This is the first time on the record where the author looks forward.”