Thibault 2020[Photo by Jamie Wdziekonsk]


“Centrelink” is the first song shared ahead of the release of the first album, called “Or Not Thibault” by Melbourne’s Thibault.

The album isn’t out until September, which is a couple of months away yet, pandemic allowing, but you can pre-order the LP now. I did, in an instant. Not really an impulse buy, more just decisive common sense based on what “Centrelink” offered and the track record of the musicians involved in Thibault.

Thibault is made up of Nicole Thibault and Julian Patterson, who were both part of ‘lo-fi jazz pop’ band Minimum Chips, one of the most wonderful and under-recognised Australian bands of the past few decades, along with Rebecca Liston (Parsnip) and Lachlan Denton (Ocean Party). All those bands have been featured on PopLib in recent years so it only took a few seconds of this one song to know that this was an album worth committing to early on.

When I first heard Minimum Chips, through a song on a Chapter Music compilation, I wrote in a PopLib post that the song: “seems to me to transcend ‘indie-pop’ whatever that is, although it is clearly independent and clearly pop. It is the kind of thing you might imagine in a fever dream involving members of Stereolab and Broadcast forming a secret group and releasing a single on Sarah Records or some other equally unlikely kind of musical fantasy in an alternative universe.” 

Thibault’s “Centrelink” also fits within that musical fantasy. Harpsichord introduces this tale of dignity-crushing humiliation of the Australian unemployment office – the despised Centrelink of the title. But for something with so much sadness at its core, it is an exultant escape and triumphant overcoming of life’s set-backs, with a glorious brass and 12-string guitar instrumental passage reminiscent of the bold instrumentation and arrangements of John Barry’s 1960s film soundtrack music.

Minimum Chips released one highly recommended perfect studio album “Kitchen Tea Thankyou” and there are other collections of their early EPs which, at their poppiest offer a more fragile and subversive experimental lo-fi DIY Melbourne take on the  kind of odd-pop that the likes of Stereolab and then Broadcast were exploring in the UK and Tokey Tones in New Zealand.