Midnight Oil Capricornia

Despite maintaining a strong fan base, this is the persistent Aussies’ first album to receive a full-scale Canadian release since 1993’s Earth and Sun and Moon. Back then they seemed on the verge of a huge international breakthrough, but then politics in music fell out of fashion. The good news is that the Oils have not wavered from injecting social activism into their prickly pop aesthetic, as Capricornia puts forth a variety of issues we can all feel guilty about, from middle class apathy ("Too Much Sunshine”) to environmental decay ("Tone Poem”) to East Timor ("Say Your Prayers”). As usual, the messages are subtly dispensed through excellent musicianship and hooks aplenty. While vocalist Peter Garrett remains firmly front and centre, with this album I finally recognised the contributions of the other members, especially guitarist Jim Moginie, whose gorgeous 12-string work distinguishes the album opener "Golden Age,” and his collaboration with drummer Rob Hirst on "The World I See” is Capricornia’s best song; a strong return from a band that is thankfully still around. (Liquid8)