New Zealand Musician, February/ March 2008
Puddle – No Love – No Hate
Puddle have been around in some form or other since 1984 with the centre of the band being the shambling pop genius that is George Henderson. "No Love – No Hate" is the most recent offering from Puddle and was recorded in Henderson's brother's home studio in Dunedin with him playing everything except drums. It's obvious that these songs were ideas Henderson wanted to put down quickly and consequently the album has a home demo feel to it, but therein lies its charm. It's a record chock-full of lo-fi indie pop with interesting chord changes, quirky melodies and self effacing and tender lyrics that cut straight to the chase. Throughout the guitars alternate between fuzzed out splendour and sweet jangle. Combined with Henderson's drone-like voice that is often way back in the mix the sound is classic Flying Nun, making it sound somewhat unique in this day and age of radio polished product.
– Tony Parker
The Puddle Album Release Gig - Circadian Rhythm, 19/10/07
The first thing I love about [The Puddle] is that they are unlike any other band, ever. They perform extremely well crafted guitar based pop songs with a heavy literary influence and take a tiny piece of each genre of the last fifty years of popular music to create something entirely their own.
At first, [The Puddle] are a difficult prospect. They will not play the same game as every other band, so you get early starts (for this town anyway), no support band (other than the band itself) and a lot of music. It can be overwhelming, but for those with patience, it can also be very rewarding.
By the time I arrived at Circadian Rhythm at 9:30pm, [The Puddle] were already three songs into their set. Having set up their current incarnation as a three piece (gat, bass, drums) with only the vocals going through a PA, it was obvious this place was ideal for The Puddle. Each section of the band was entirely audible in their own right, with the vocals clearly and unobtrusively over the top. And it is important (although not imperative fo enjoy the gig) to be able to hear the vocals, as the lyrics are one of the major strengths of [The Puddle]. They possess a poetic, literary quality that is sorely lacking in New Zealand music, and coupled with an uncanny ability to meld them to the catchiest, yet understated, pop songs you've never heard, it is a wonder that this band is so under appreciated.
But it is also obvious why they are so under appreciated. An unwillingness to play the music business game and a restlessness that ensures you are always hearing unfamiliar songs rather than the same old hits done to death and beyond, will ensure that The Puddle will always make people work to appreciate them. In this manner they have the complete opposite problem to The Chills, where Martin Phillipps clings to his legacy like a dead albatross to the detriment of the vitality of The Chills and the potential for audience growth, George Henderson would seemingly rather ditch the old songs in favour of the most recent material he's written in order to share them with people while they're still exciting to him, helping ensure the audience is not overly familiar with the bulk of the setlist and adding to the possibility of alienation.
To this end the set performed is mainly new material (with the new album showcased song by song in it's entirety at the beginning of the first set) with a sprinkling of older material mainly courtesy of Into The Moon. The flourishes of multi-instrumentalists from the recordings are reduced with the line up being a three piece, but this in no way hinders the songs, in fact it allows for some reinterpretation, as was the case with Into The Moon's Monogamy which featured an extended guitar solo outro. George Henderson's guitar playing could be described as unorthodox (as could everything about The Puddle) and due to playing without his thumb behind the neck of the guitar at first appears amateurish. Nothing could be further from reality however, and any deficiencies therein are turned to virtues. Songs are performed with a seeming sense of the lackadaisical (particularly on The Beast Within), but it is in fact the heart of the song that is considered important rather than the ability to render it note perfect every time.
In this manner [The Puddle] are always evolving, and this particular gig showcased a more low key aspect to the band, which is also evident on the new album. But don't get me wrong, they are not some limp, soppy band of earnest tree huggers eager to be submissive to anyone to be loved, Shakespeare Monkeys and Valhalla are both evidence enough of an ability to be one part rock band and one part intellectual, it's just that tonight's two sets do lean towards the more understated material. The most recent Puddle release (before tonight) is not touched at all, with a preference towards new, unheard material.
As the venue slowly filled through the night, the obvious adoration this band is held in was displayed more and more with a few brave souls making their way the stage front to dance and playfully heckling the band. Latecomers were catered for by the repeating of some songs played earlier in the night when the venue was less occupied, and those that had been there longer were treated to a second hearing of brand new songs. Particular highlights were the aforementioned Valhalla (with it's Blues Brothers-like refrain) and Shakespeare Monkeys, the catchy as-all-hell No Sequels and Back Before You Came. Every single song played had some sort of hook, be it a well constructed phrase, guitar line or dynamic switch (an absolute necessity in a three piece band). Students of music would be well served to study the songs of George Henderson, and study them well. It was all over by midnight with Circadian Rhythm's inner city licensing rules guaranteeing an early night.
Hopefully this gig marks a rejuvenation in this well traveled band, with another new album due early next year and signs that the songs are only getting more finely crafted there could be a bright future ahead for [The Puddle]. If you are unfamiliar with [The Puddle] at all, I would recommend you catch them the next time they play in Dunedin, just make sure you come early, and with an open mind.
No Love, No Hate Review on Fire Escape Talking