Secret Meeting score: 83
by Joseph Purcell
Antipodean music is once more enjoying a renaissance. After the early noughties’ breakthroughs from Jet, Wolfmother and The Datsuns, it began to dry up. Recently, however, with Tame Impala firmly seated in the vanguard, a number of artists from Australia and New Zealand have made an impact on the alternative music scene.
Brisbane three piece, The Goon Sax, are the latest act to break out. 2016 debut, Up to Anything, was recorded while all three band members where still at school, but showcased a collection filled promise and a group with an ear for effortlessly catchy pop in the mode of The Modern Lovers. Yet, for all its positives, Up to Anything was tinged with the naivety of youth and felt imbalanced between the musical and lyrical depths.
Their return, We’re Not Talking, highlights the band’s growth and makes a significant step forward. They have meshed their fantastic nouse for melody with lyrical stabs that suggest something darker and more intriguing. Their development as musicians is also evident, and the emergence of drummer, Riley Jones, as an equal to singer songwriters, Louis Forster and James Harrison, has shifted the dynamic on an album of equivalent parts joy and turmoil.
Jam packed with highlights, their sophomore collection is the sound of a band who seem to have found their sound, typified superbly on single, We Can’t Win. A wonderful duet of competing vocals, it is reminiscent of Stephen Merritt and some of the finest moments on Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs. It slowly captures the erosion of a relationship, as both parties begin to feel helpless to resurrect the magic of earlier years, and the love once experienced slips away.
Other highlights include She Knows which is a buzz of cutting fast paced guitars, Make Time 4 Love which is a fat slice of indie pop at its chipy, heartfelt best, while She Knows, Losing Myself and We’re Not Talking see the three piece making significant steps forward as they push the envelope of their musicality with the introduction of drum machines and strings.
Many young bands wilt under the pressure of critical acclaim, but The Goon Sax are proving that they’re capable of quite the opposite. In the intervening years since their debut, they have grown, while retaining all the joy of their debut. If they maintain this trajectory, album three will be something very special indeed.