For a debut album, Australia's Ice Cream Hands' Travelling... Made Easy is quite an accomplished and ambitious effort. Instead of ever taking the easy road and resorting to guitar-drenched rockers or ballad schlock, Travelling... Made Easy immediately set up the blueprint of Ice Cream Hands' sound. While the tracks are not quite as strong or memorable as later material (especially that found on 'Memory Lane Traffic Jam), most of it is excellent nonetheless. The sing-along opener "Let's Take a Look Inside" could almost be considered the band's mission statement; the lines "To blaze higher, endlessly — that won't impress me/You can glow like a superpower/I'd rather have a wallflower/Let's take a look inside" clearly state the kind of pop that Ice Cream Hands create. There's no flash or bravado to this music, it's just pure, honest, catchy power pop, and that's part of this band's true far-reaching appeal. Since it is a debut, Travelling... Made Easy is a bit all over the place in terms of tempo changes and production, but that doesn't stop the full-throttle rocker "The Way She Drives" or the ultra-catchy pop of "Poor and Unknown" and "You Can Smile Now" from being any less enjoyable. With a debut like this, it's amazing this band continues to live in relative obscurity. (The German import release includes four B-sides as bonus tracks to make a total of 18. These are well worth seeking out as most are more raw than what is found on the album, and they also include a cover of the Replacements' "Swingin' Party.") -AMG
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