Album cover artwork for Jack Ladder with black vinyl record popping out“Who am I gonna be/ When I get free?” – Astronaut, Hijack!’s lead single, comes in hot. As affecting as No Cars Go by Arcade Fire, this song boasts inventive rhyming (eg. “planet… Goddamnit”) elevated by strings that swell and flutter. US-based Australian screen composer Sam Lipman’s string arrangements add weightless agility throughout, enhancing Ladder’s delicious baritone and poetic turn of phrase.

“I came top of my class/ At wasted time… I was voted least likely to succeed” – The Bad Seeds-esque Leaving Eden is a riveting character study, resplendent with an omnipresent, sinister undercurrent of rhythmic bass. Because Ladder’s own description of Xmas In Rehab simply cannot be topped, we’re ‘stealing’ it: “Like a Tom Petty tune on a mild sedative.”

Despite the diverse moods explored throughout Jack Ladder’s sixth record – from Egomania’s baroque pomp to the Bond-theme majesty of Negative Blender and the gentle, smitten Blueberry Eyes (dedicated to Ladder’s daughter, Aida) – Hijack! draws from a cohesive sonic palette.

Standout track The Giver serves Ladder’s trademark black humour (“I give away my lunch break and I’m still not getting paid”) with dramatic percussive flourishes underscoring the panflute-conjuring synth hook. A piano ballad augmented by synths that evoke whalesong, The Follower gradually unfurls before softly landing – like a calming weighted blanket – to close out Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders’ best set yet.

Hijack! by Jack Ladder & the Dreamlanders is out on vinyl and CD Sep 17 via Endless Recordings.

Read our live review of Jack Ladder’s Melbourne show in May of this year.

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