It’s somewhat surprising, given its relative isolation, what a musical hot-spot Perth has become. It must be a tall order, garnering a following as an up and coming Aussie band – a tour round the major cities is a 5000+ mile undertaking, and Perth bands face the issue of being on the opposite side of the country to nearly every potential tour stop.
Nonetheless, Australia’s fourth largest city has produced some of the country’s most recognized acts – Tame Impala, John Butler Trio, Knife Party and Pendulum* among them – not to mention a sizeable contribution to the Oceanic hardcore scene.
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Sail On! Sail On! , a quartet of friends from the City of Light** have built up a reputation in their homeland for their chaotic live performances, and with their debut, ‘You Are Not You’, they could well be on their way to extra-continental success. The band claim influence from mewithoutyou and Poison the Well, and there’s touches of mid-era Thrice and Alexisonfire to them as well.
The quartet retain a reassuring touch of Australiana throughout their debut – the second track is dubbed ‘Hobart’ in homage to Tasmania’s capital, a move reminiscent of a more aggressive but equally bearded Bon Iver, whilst some tracks, notably the intense, ‘No Thieves’ feature passages of intriguing, accented dialogue. Frontman and lead guitarist Skinny alternates between his native Aussie brogue and the Americanized shout which has become the hardcore standard.
Bookended between the appropriately titled, ‘First In’ and ‘Last Out’, the albums ten tracks allow a fair variation between typical post-hardcore intensity and some mellower moments which allow the patterns of the riffs to breathe. Dream/Fabrication the albums longest track, sees SO!SO!*** allowing themselves to be at their most progressive, switching up to a maelstrom of sound, until the backing fades to silence, and the shriek of, ‘Nothing! Worthless!’ hangs threateningly in the void.
As debuts go, ‘You Are Not You’ certainly has promise. The production lets it down a bit – sure, a hardcore debut is allowed to – and sometimes encouraged to – sound unpolished, but there are moments where the sound quality seems to betray the musicianship. All in all though, an intriguing first effort, which could hopefully be the start of many great things to come.
*A few years ago I’d have mentioned Rolf Harris in here, but circumstances would indicate he’ll be staying with us for the foreseeable.
**Named for an occasion where the city co-ordinated a light display in honour of astronaut John Glen. Nothing to do with hardcore, just some fun Perth-related trivia.
***Having spent a half hour on their Spotify, we’re now on ‘acronym terms’