For Fans Of
Melbourne garage punks, Press Club, only recently hit my radar with the international release of their debut record, ‘Late Teens,’ back in January 2019 (originally released in their native Australia in March 2018.) It’s a powerful coming of age album bursting with youthful energy, fuzzy and blown-out guitar tones, devastatingly emotional sing-a-long hooks and a standout vocal performance from Natalie Foster. I was just so drawn in by the DIY, rough-around-the-edges garage rock aesthetic of the band, and was so captivated by the driving punk guitars and those surging vocal hooks.
Fast forward to now and the Melbourne-based band has now dropped their second LP, ‘Wasted Energy,’ their second release in not even 16 months, quite the achievement I’m sure many would agree. Given the somewhat short break between their first and second records, is ‘Wasted Energy‘ the product of a prolifically creative new band, bursting at the seams with great music or is it simply just wasted energy? Well, as that 90/100 suggests, this energy sure isn’t wasted!
‘Separate Houses‘ opens the album with a driving, satisfying chug, a buzz of guitars and some insane, rolling drum fills. The lyrics are an honest exploration of isolation and self-doubt, something we can all relate to, and Foster’s vocals have a satisfying strain and crack especially during the breakdown around the three-minute mark that builds to the devastating “I keep on pretending that I’m getting better”. A great opener all the way through. ‘Dead Or Dying‘ charges forward with a brisk tempo, a wash of crashing drums, stabbing guitars and prowling bass lines. Iain MacRae’s satisfying bass rumbles continue on through the verse, holding everything together as the probing guitar melodies, busy drums and searching vocals build to a shattering conclusion. It’s short but memorable and shows exactly how the authentic production job here has captured the true essence of Press Club’s live sound.
‘Thinking About You‘ is a somewhat radio-friendly single but with loads more attitude and bite. At first listen the repeated line of “I’m thinking about you” may fool you that this is a love song, but lines like “I’m barely sleeping now I know you’re around” and “you know me well but I don’t know you at all” or “I wake up and start to shit myself” uncover a more sinister relationship about a creepy stalker. Despite the POS stalker subject matter, you can easily lose yourself in the thumping chorus and crooning lead guitars here – a great track!
‘Chosen Ones‘ is a rising punk song, railing hard and loud against a former lover. The snarling diatribe of “no one cares you’re giving up responsibility to put your mind at ease, you’re wasting time and wasting energy” makes for a fantastic chorus that you can’t help but join in with. Towards the end, everything slows down into a crawling, brooding rock beast, patiently building into a blistering ball of anger where you’re left hanging on nothing but Foster’s scathing vocal shouts. She’s one of the best frontwomen in rock today and this song, this whole album, confirm that.
At the half-way point, we reach ‘Get Better‘, which first came out way back in April. It opens raucously, with a razor-sharp guitar lick into a grooving chug, but as it lurches into the first chorus there’s a slightly jarring change of pace that initially caught me off guard and put me off my stride. It redeemed itself at about the halfway point as it eases into that chorus instead, with a long instrumental, clattering and grinding along, building to the bellowed “this has to all get better, we have to all get better” over a clattering drum stomp before surging to a stabbing conclusion.
Next up ‘Behave,’ is a real push back against people telling Natalie how she should think, feel and act because of her gender. It features a lead melody as addictive as they come and we get this band’s signature razor guitar leads, pounding drums and gritty vocals that we’ve all become so familiar with but all elevated with these small, lower “ooh” backing vocal that adds extra style and bravado. It’s a small touch but genuinely one of my favorite moments to join in with, and the chaotically swaggering guitar solo that closes the song is satisfying air guitar fodder. ‘New Year’s Eve‘ was the last single before the album’s recent release and it just damn-well explodes with burning punk energy from the get-go. Simple yet chaotic riffs, crashing symbols, pick slides (you gotta love a punk rock pick slide) and careering bass parts confirm we’re in absolute banger territory; only emphasized by the effortlessly cool vocals of “I don’t give a shit about you babe” and “ we all bleed for nothing.”
‘How Can It Not Be Love‘ is another ripper on a record filled with them, bouncing hard along while asking “How can it not be love when I’m everything you need and more”. It’s relentless, endlessly dance-able and ends on the gloriously shout-along “you’ve got no faith in yourself.” At only two minutes long, it’s an infectious little repeater. The dizzying guitars that open melodic punk belter ‘I’m In Hell‘ will get you in a spin and the gurgling bass line will get your blood pumping. The lyrics describing the crushing hell following the end of a relationship are remarkably, brutally, honest and the chorus of “there’s no way that I’ll get it back again, I’ll keep my feet in the gutter” is as brazen and as good as any of the vocal hooks on this album. (And there are plenty to go around!)
And now for something a little different. ‘Same Mistakes‘ is a much more subdued affair, but this slower pace doesn’t result in any lack of power. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as it allows the music and vocals time to breath and hit home the passion and palpable feeling behind lyrics: “it breaks my heart when you make those same mistakes, I don’t wanna know how to get it back”. Even at this late stage, we get the first true backing vocals, adding a real sense of drama to the song’s final third.
To be honest, if the album had ended on ‘Same Mistakes‘ I would have been fully satisfied. But as a treat, we get one last hurrah with ‘Twenty-Three.’ This final track brings back the previous speedier pace and bounce alongside emotionally-fuelled vocals. The line of “tattoos will cover up, your actions still say so” will surely become a fan-fave and the instrumental middle section harks back to the glory days of pop-punk.
With an album name like ‘Wasted Energy’, there lies an opportunity for haters to jump in and describe this album as something lackluster and poorly executed because then they can look clever; that it’s “hur hur wasted energy.” But anyone who comes to that conclusion is clearly deluded, as ‘Wasted Energy’ is a blisteringly powerful punk rock album, full of explosive energy, youthful exuberance and stunning performances from each member. The lyrics are honest and insightful, the vocals are superbly real and emotional and the overall sound of the “kicked-in-amp” guitars, rumbling bass and lively drums successfully capture the raucous energy of a live Press Club performance; a place where this band rules with an iron fist. In all honesty, on just a first listen, I probably would’ve given ‘Wasted Energy’ just a 70, as there’s good first impressions to be had, but after living and breathing these songs for a few days now, it’s easily a solid 90. No question about it. Where ‘Late Teens’ felt like a stage tailored for Natalie Foster’s powerful vocal performance, ‘Wasted Energy’ retains that but then also feels like a much more rounded full-band experience. So let’s roll on album number three in about 8 or so months time, yeah? (Please tell me I’m funny.)
Dead Or Dying
Thinking About You
New Years Eve
How Can It Not Be Love
I’m In Hell
‘Wasted Energy’ is out now: