Veteran singer-songwriter Steve Smith fronts the Australian group Fallon Cush, whose hooky, melodic guitar-driven folk-rock veers decisively more toward rock than the folk. Critics frequently invoke fellow Antipodeans Crowded House in describing the band’s poppier outings; also, and perhaps more audible on its jangly third release, Bee In Your Bonnet (out May 20), Fallon Crush owes a friendly debt to rootsy classic rock like Tom Petty, The Band, and Bob Dylan. (Either “Useless Friend” or “Dorothy” in particular, off the new album, could easily be a Wilburys or Heartbreakers outtake.)
Smith’s endearingly weird, adenoidal voice is a perfect delivery mechanism for the vulnerability of a sad-love ballad like “For Too Long,” as well as for the devil-may-care honky-tonk rock of “King’s Ransom,” surfing along gleefully on waves of loose, zany guitar and pounded piano. Rockers like that are more immediately addictive, but the slow-dance cuts pay off, too. The title track, with its big, swelling keyboards, is a borderline-psychedelic couples’ skate.