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While I think most would agree that being a teenager is pretty fucking shit, it’s also such an important, formative and defining period of our lives for countless reasons. And it’s on Press Club’s debut LP, ‘Late Teens’, that the Melbourne band fully understand this sentiment without coming off as childish, inexperienced or substanceless. It’s quite the opposite, actually; empowering and exciting, absolutely driven and wonderfully honest throughout.
‘Late Teens‘ is a terrific record about the emotional, mental and physical maturity that comes with the often awkward and painful transition from adolescence into the existential dread of adulthood, and the many frustrations and experiences that come with such growth. Whether it’s dealing with messy young love, dreams colliding with reality, the idea of what home is, making mistakes, learning from said mistakes, becoming independent, discovering who you are, understanding the world differently, seeing life’s impermanence, travelling, the relationships that you form (and the ones you don’t), to change. As someone who as little as four years ago was a teenager himself, a record like ‘Late Teens’ is incredibly relatable in its message, intent and its execution; it’s akin to how I saw the world in my own youth. But beyond my own personal investment with this LP, it’s just universally poignant regardless of your own gender, age, ethnic background or sexual orientation. Press Club express a full spectrum of emotions and thoughts here, ones that I’d argue most of us have had at one point or another in our lives. All set to a joyous soundtrack of hook-laden, rambunctious rock no less!
Written and conceived at the house of bassist Ian MacRae and recorded/produced at The Aviary Studios by guitarist Greg Rietwyk (who steals the spotlight with his gritty buzzsaw riffs and punchy, lifeful leads), no third party has been able to meddle with Press Club’s sonic vision. Whether listeners file the band’s music away as indie, punk, hardcore (though I cannot see how), garage rock or even just noise, I get the feeling that this quartet aren’t fussed either way; they’re simply opting to write as many upfront and chaotic tunes as they can and simply let the chips fall where they may.
And as it turns out, those said chips have landed fucking amazingly well with the group’s debut LP. For Press Club really have truly crafted a strong and relatable body of work here. It’s an album that in terms of its vocals, lyrics, instrumentals, and production is unbridled, loud, genuinely raw but also one-hundred-percent them in every possible way.
The raw recording and thick production of ‘Late Teens‘ is what will probably strike people the most upon their first listen. It’s also what will score the band plenty of comparisons to fellow Aussie groups like Ceres or Camp Cope with their sense of varying dynamics, prevalence for live tracking, few overdubs, and an authentic, lively sound overall. From the slight tinges of distortion heard in Natalie Foster’s emotive and primal vocals (who is at the forefront of this record and who spills her guts throughout), the subtle slapback delay found in the Frank Lees‘ solid drumming and Foster’s vocals, to the endearing way in which ‘Late Teens‘ feels and sounds like a true four-piece act playing live right in front of you, commanding a stage completely. It’s that kind of approach – along with them calling it how it is regardless of topic and their straight-to-the-point song lengths – is what makes Press Club stand out and is also what will take the band very far indeed.
Well, that and them just writing really bloody good songs too! Following the loving response that the stellar pre-release singles of the banging ‘Headwreck‘, the utterly infectious ‘My Body’s Changing‘ and the deep, “feelsville” quality of ‘Suburbia‘ (written about both individual changes and the gentrification of Brunswick East) received, the rest of this impressive record follows suit solidly.
The album’s first cut, ‘Crash’, is just that: a massive crash-course in Press Club’s noisy yet also delicate and dynamic rock sound with bright instrumental passages, solid use of feedback and distortion, and uplifting crescendos packed with punchy drum crashes and cascading guitars. ‘Crash‘ just sets the pace and the sound for this debut so fucking well; a record that’s a life-affirming and therapeutic journey for both Foster and her three bandmates. ‘Golden State‘ is a fever-pitch of emotional frustrations of a lovers quarrel, these wailing guitar lines, and pounding drum grooves that build and flow together beautifully so. The quieter and gloomy instrumental of the beautiful ‘Side B’ – which to me sounds like Kings Of Leon amid their ‘Only By The Night‘ era but in a good way – announces it’s namesake: the B-side of ‘Late Teens’ and the remaining solid five tracks.
Energetic later cuts like ‘Ignorance’ and the bitterly venomous ‘Let It Fall’ are bursting with lyrical independence, over-distorted chords and anger-driven punk rock attitude that’s as passionate as anything else Press Club create. The record’s title track again sums up that fed-up point of anger at another about something once loving and good coming to a sad end via Foster’s heartfelt, front-and-centre vocals and Rietwyk’s buzz-sawing guitars that would make Calories proud and could easily level forests. Whereas another song like ‘Trading Punches‘ uses Lees’ driving percussion, MacRae’s fuzzy bass lines and some crunchy guitar work as a sonic backdrop for torn lyrics about having a boxing match with yourself, coming out more mentally beaten and broken, but then being able to look back to where you once where and being able to now move past it. Then the upbeat closer ‘Stay Low’ (similar to ‘My Body’s Changing‘) is just hook-central with its memorable guitar-vocal melody combos and recurring theme of growing beyond your planted roots; making it an uplifting, fitting cap-off for this downright consistent, concise and confident debut that goes as long as it needs to.
Just how this debut record says exactly all it needs to with their direct lyricism, massive hooks, immense promise, and no-bullshit songwriting, there’s very little else I need to add other than: ‘Late Teens’ is a magnificent debut record – one of 2018’s best rock records – from one of Australia’s best up and coming bands.
- My Body’s Changing
- Golden State
- Side B
- Let It Fall
- Trading Punches
- Late Teens
- Stay Low
‘Late Teens’ is out right fucking now, go and grab it here.