Clowns – Lucid Again


Artist

Album

Lucid Again

Label

Poison City Records

Year

2017

For Fans Of

Violent Soho, The Bennies, fuzz.

Summary

FX pedals makes everything better.

Rating

80 / 100

Every time I chuck on a record by Poison City Records, I feel like I’m signing up for an exhaustive musical journey – and that’s no bad thing!

It primarily comes down to contestant intensity thrown up by their artists; from the dark fuzz of Batpiss to the relentless upbeat thrashing of The Bennies, the label has a real knack for unearthing some of the best, most ferocious punk and rock sounds from the urban sprawl. And Melbourne punk rock juggernauts Clowns are no different, with their latest effort ‘Lucid Again‘ offering nine loud, fast, angry tunes that provide sheer aggression from beginning to end. The jams are long, the volume is loud and the drums are fast – and that’s all you need to know here, really. No need to catch up on the previous episodes.

A listen through ‘Lucid Again’ is like meeting someone and asking what they’ve been doing all week; they say “just working“, and upon further inspection, you find that they aren’t hiding anything. They’ve been straight with you from the start, which can be both refreshing but a little jarring.

The album’s opening title track kicks off with a brooding vocal melody and a bare-bones riff, and that’s really about the only sonic respite you’ll get from this record. The rest of ‘Lucid Again‘ shows the band exploring similarly dark, brooding melodies of the opening cut but with five-fold distortion, power and fury; all serving as a backdrop for vocalist Stevie Williams howling and yelling away about his existential questioning of the day-to-day.

If the title track was the steady intro for the fury to come, ‘Like A Knife at a Gunfight’ is the barrage of punches that you were braced but never quite ready for. Blazing with a blistering five minutes, the song introduces varying guitar voices amongst the raw chaos, mainly noticeable in the constant twangy tones from the top levels of these layered guitars. This slight variation in s0nic tones is what helps to keep ‘Lucid Again’ interesting, with other cuts like ‘Dropped My Brain’ and pick-of-the-lot ‘Pickle’ adding the perfect amounts of reverb, phaser and garage-style elements to give the record an extra kick of psychedelia.

Seriously, any Ty Segal fans reading, some of these tunes here are going to make you lose you absolute shit!

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The sonic diversity of this record really does provide the oxygen needed to stick out the assault that Clowns have served up here.

Yet while ‘Lucid Again’ offsets the constant barrage of punk rock with some very cool effects and sounds, what it lacks is the occasional concise nature of wrapping things up. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE some of the riffs of ‘Noise In The Night’ but five minutes is a long time for things to develop at such a constant dynamic level. Any lecturer or motivational speaker knows that they are going to get their point across more effectively if they save the yelling for the end, and will accordingly build up to that peak steadily. Ergo, one constant level of noise can and often will lessen the overall effect of the song if drawn out for too long. Thankfully, the riffs provided on some of the lengthier cuts here are both catchy and enjoyable, helping the listener stick it out.

Also in terms of length, it’s worth mentioning that the epic, nine-minute album closer  of‘Not Coping’ is exempt from the above criticism; as the extended jam in the middle eight is one of the high points of the entire record and deserves its considerable amount of airtime. However, if the idea of nine minutes of steadily developing psych-punk seems too much for you, the short and sharp ‘Forensic Science’ and ‘15 Minutes of Infamy’ will have you well and truly covered.

In saying all of this, on ‘Lucid Again‘, there really is something for any and all fans of Clowns’ fast and aggressive sound and there’s more than enough evolution to keep the old timers interested.

Conclusion

‘Lucid Again’ is indeed a Clown’s record through and through. It has the punch, rocket-power and recklessness that has come to characterise the group’s discography and intense live shows. However, the Melbourne quintet has taken some impressive steps towards a more diverse soundscape here, bringing in just the right amount of extras to keep things interesting, whilst staying true to the old-school ethic that made people love them in the first place. All they need to do now, like my conclusion, is to condense it just enough to digest it with a bit more ease.

Tracklisting

1. Lucid Again

2. Life A Knife at a Gunfight

3. Dropped My Brain

4. Pickle

5. Noise in the NighDestroy

6. Destroy The Evidence

7. Painful Truth

8. Fifteen Minutes Of Infamy

9. Not Coping

‘Lucid Again’ is out now via Poison City Records. 

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