Dominion Road by The Mutton Birds, from their compilation album Flock: The Best of The Mutton Birds.
If you've never heard The Mutton Birds they sound sorta like Deep Blue Something did in the mid 90s, melodically at least. Since the material on this album comes from then and a little later that's not really surprising, convergent evolution being alive and well in the arts. Call it alternate pop.
Lyrically the song is magical, telling a story that is vivid in only two verses and a refrain with a varying line (I dunno what this trick is called. I don't doubt the style has a name), one of a young man, dissolute, who loses everything and then starts rebuilding his life. How all that gets shoehorned into a song three minutes and fifty-five second long without denting it beyond repair is a trick I wish I could emulate.
Better yet, the album is full of songs with poppy tunes containing ambush stories, some of them very dark. The song "White Valiant" scares the snot out of me and after dozens of hearings I'm still not sure what's going to happen.
There's a love song about a beaten-up electric heater that's not creepy at all, no sir, one about the stupid things an American Senator said on the radio that has a Led Zeppelin/Kashmir treatment, one about a guy who leaves home after an argument, goes to his sports equipment shop and waxes lyrical about how hypnotically well-made an AK-47 is in an increasingly strident tone.
There's a magnificent slow-dance/wedding song in which the beautiful chorus was actually intended only as a place-keeper for something else but the songwriter was over-ruled by the drummer, and a driving retread of their cover of "Don't Fear The Reaper" - the original of which runs at the end of the Peter Jackson movie The Frighteners, which I confess was why I sought out the recording in the first place. This one is better.
There's a letter from a love-lorn young guy bemoaning the fact that she lives in Wellington and he ... doesn't. It's poppy and sad and wonderful. How this wasn't a radio-play hit is a mystery.
Flock cost me deep in the purse and I don't regret a single cent. You should give it a listen. At the very least try streaming "Dominion Road", "A Thing Well-Made", "White Valiant", "Wellington", "Queen's English" and "Anchor Me".
The songwriting here is nothing short of masterful, and the instruments are played by experts. Why these guys were not more popular "in the day" is beyond me. Surely not just because they come from New Zealand. I thought we lived in a global economy now.
Go have a listen for yourself.