For Fans Of
On their third and latest LP, Adelaide rock’n’rollers Grenadiers have gone for a profound and somewhat fatalistic title, which appears to offer advice on how to live an authentic life: ‘Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You’. It’s the kind of bold and deliberately vague philosophical statement that you’ll find plastered across Tumblr blogs or adorning kitschy IKEA wall features. A quick Google even goes so far as to inform you that this particular turn of phrase came spewing out of the pen of everyone’s favourite gutter poet, Charles Bukowski. Except that, well, it didn’t; but the fake news aspect of it doesn’t really matter, nor does it dilute the overall intended message here. What Grenadiers are trying to say is this: living dangerously isn’t inherently bad, and, if anything, it can actually be a whole lot of fun.
After the success of their second album, 2015’s ‘Summer’—which scored feature album status on Triple J, and pushed the band on to touring slots with esteemed acts like Millencolin and Shihad—it seems only natural that Grenadiers would try to refine and perfect their unpredictable mix of punk-tinged, classic rock’n’roll. But the gig life isn’t always sunshine and roses. The three-piece—consisting of frontman and guitarist Jesse Coulter, bassist and backup vocalist Phil Meakin, and drummer James ‘Jimmy’ Balderston—suffered setback after continual setback in trying to unleash their third album upon the world: financial instability, protracted recording sessions, mixing SNAFU’s; all of the typical pitfalls facing struggling independent artists today. Not to mention Meakin’s car being broken into, and thousands of dollars’ worth of gear stolen. Yet despite all of this, Grenadiers sound determined and laser-focused on ‘Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You’. It’s a record that’s packed to the brim with classic, lean and mean rock’n’roll with a distinctly suburban flavour.
As the band wrote on their Facebook page prior to the album’s release: “Mostly, it’s rock songs about drinking and death.” Now, what’s not to love about that?
As album openers go, they don’t really get more succinct than ‘Drunk and Broke’. With a jangly guitar lead, Balderston’s punchy snare, and Coulter’s gratingly hypnotic refrain, Grenadiers have crafted the perfect, angular slacker anthem; a song that could easily soundtrack a scene of drunken debauchery from any 90’s Richard Linklater film. Single ‘Suburban Life’ takes the So-Cal gutter punk of groups like The Bronx and Unwritten Law, and passes it through an Aussie, Winnie Blue filter. The track features a wandering bass-line from Meakin and a chorus stacked with soaring ‘woah-ohs,’ almost sounding like Clowns at their most anthemic—minus the penchant for psychedelics, of course. Oh, and to really drive it home, there’s a sample of a lawn mower at the end, where you can almost smell the two-stroke and cut grass. “How’s the serenity?”
‘Long Way Down’ slows things down for an exercise in mid-tempo, working-class jukebox rock ala Midnight Oil, and it’s a snug fit on Grenadiers. Lyrically, Coulter works his way around philosophical, ‘tip your bartender’ moments (“Because a mark on a page, ain’t particularly sage/If you’re too drunk to read between the lines”), and it doesn’t get any more Aussie than shouting out “dunny doors” in your pre-chorus. Elsewhere on the record, it’s easy to hear the different facets of the Grenadiers sound and how it’s evolved over time: the high-octane melodic punk of ‘Panic Attack’; Coulter’s brash, snarling delivery on ‘Glasses Up,’ an ode to nihilistic blues and rampant alcoholism; the old-school Green Day vibes of ‘Short Memory’ and Meakin‘s crunchy bass riffs (also, extra points for Coulter’s cheeky jab at the human condition: “neuroses wrapped in meat sacks”).
While the tracks on Side B of the album aren’t as memorable as the front half, there’s still a lot to appreciate: the vocal interplay and harmonies between Coulter and Meakin on ‘Midnight Man,’ or the riffs-meets-pounding drums combo on the substance abuse peddling ‘Live Fast, Diabetes’. Album closer ‘Ramona’ is the longest track, and easily the most spasmodic five-minutes on the entire record, with hints of surf-rock, garage rock, and then just balls-out, straight up fucking rock. The verses soothe like The Black Keys, the chorus hits like QOTSA on maximum overdrive, and then the whole thing comes down with a shimmering, soft fade out. Wild times indeed.
Australia has a deep tradition of hard-working, pub rock acts—AC/DC, Cold Chisel, INXS, Midnight Oil, Rose Tattoo, Magic Dirt, You Am I—and on their third album, Grenadiers were bound and determined to heed the call. If anything, ‘Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You’ is the sound of a band bouncing back and charging headfirst into life with a spring, and healthy amount of swagger, in their step. It’s a heart-on-sleeve, suburban rock odyssey infused with deeper meaning about what it means to be human: where committing to something you love requires passion, dogged resilience and unwavering perseverance against the odds.
And to quote old mate Bukowski (for real this time) from the poem Beasts Bounding Through Time –:
“the impossibility of being human
all too human
in and out
out and in
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward
- Drunk And Broke
- Suburban Life
- Glasses Up
- Long Way Down
- Short Memory
- Panic Attack
- Midnight Man
- Holding Pattern
- Live Fast, Diabetes
‘Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You’ is out now via Green Room Records/MGM. Digital and physical copies are available here. And if you’re interested, here’s a fantastic article by frontman Jesse Coulter about the band’s experience playing regional shows in Australia, and why more bands should take the plunge in to the outback.