HOURLy, Daily
Rating: 8.5/10

For a country that accounts for only one-three-hundredth of the world's population, Australia certainly has made its mark on pop music history. Bands from Australia--most notably AC/DC, INXS, and the Bee Gees--have sold far more records than you would expect from musicians hailing from such a relatively small, secluded part of the world. And if You Am I's Stateside debut, Hourly, Daily, is any indication, we may soon be lumping this Australian trio in with those other South Pacific stalwarts.
Hourly, Daily is a magnificent record, consisting mostly of dense, upbeat pop songs, but also sprinkled with quiet, brooding acoustic tunes, like the darkly beautiful title-track opener. But just as the tender strains of flute and cello fade away at the end of the song, You Am I bursts forth with "Good Mornin'," a lush pop number built on a bouncy rhythm and rife with hand-in-glove harmonies that would make XTC's Andy Partridge jealous.

From that point on, jubilant ditties dominate. "Good Mornin'" is followed by the jaunty "Mr. Milk," which, two songs later, is bettered by the rollicking "Trike," a tune heralded by a festive harmonica intro. Another two songs down the road is "Opportunities," the best song on the record, thanks in large part to its wonderfully infectious chorus. All the songs on Hourly, Daily - be they loud or quiet, slow or fast -are connected by fine songwriting, ear-catching hooks, and skillful arrangements. That's a formula thousands of bands strive for, but few manage to sustain for an entire album. You Am I has done that on Hourly, Daily, and it deserves to earn them legions of fans all over the world.

Dan Johnson