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Album Reviews

If you’re not familiar with The National, we’d advise you to start with Boxer. Then if you’re after something a little more raw, High Violet. A little more produced? Trouble Will Find Me. Synthy? Sleep Well Beast. Promise us you’ll give them more than one listen — we’re talking about growers here. It’s a hallmark quality that has endeared The National to so many, soundtracking everything from tender Sunday morning moments to red wine-fuelled debauchery. So where then does I Am Easy To Find slot into the mix? Some fans have speculated it’s a companion piece to Trouble Will Find Me and, with its similar artwork and motifs, they wouldn’t be too far off. In true conspiracy fashion, both albums even have 17 May as their release date. Whoa. But this is an album that asks a broader question: what does it mean to be human? It is a grand statement in the same way it is not a grand statement. It finds beauty in the monotonous and banal, in unwashed dishes and nights spent in front of the television. Yes, there are the autobiographical moments we have come to expect from Matt Berninger and his frequent lyrical collaborator, his wife Carin Besser — look for the inner monologue moment in Not In Kansas — but they’re just part of the album’s inherent humanness. There’s a variety of female vocals in the mix for the first time; most notable Bowie’s longtime collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey. This choir of voices help to reinforce that these are universal themes, universal problems, universal growth. The tender moments on the album — Quiet Light, Light Years, Roman Holiday — are bound to please fans of I Need My

The National

I Am Easy To Find 4AD / Remote Control

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Frank Iero & The Future Violents Barriers UNFD

HHHH Heavily distorted guitars and harsh vocals bring punk to the forefront in Frank Iero & The Future Violents’ new album Barriers. As a soulful organ coats opening track, A New Day’s Coming, it soon explodes into an anthemic chorus that is just the beginning of this violent record.Young And Doomed kicks it up a notch with its classic punk tonality and thrashing guitars, while Iero’s vocals are forceful and maniacal in Fever Dream. The frazzled melodies are overflowing with an aggressive energy that throws vivid images of ‘70s punk into our minds. Emily Blackburn

Girl-era National. Eve Owen’s floating vocals over the skittering drums and urgent strings in Where Is Her Head grab you immediately. When Berninger comes in with a frenzied, “I think I’m hittin’ a wall/I hate loving you as much as I do,” we feel our ribcages cracking open, hearts beating bloody on the floor. Dating back over a decade, the presence of Rylan in the accompanying film’s trailer — the film was directed by noted auteur Mike Mills — was enough to send longtime fans into a tizzy. The reenergised version found on the album is a stadium anthem if anything — more Dessner wizardry well worth the wait. Mills’ film, starring Alicia Vikander, and the album don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand however. They are, as Mills suggests, “playfully hostile siblings that love to steal from each other”. Or as Berninger writes, “featherless ideas. and at the end it was a turkey”. Much like the fact we are the sum of our parts, this is an album that speaks volumes as a whole. It is a singular apocalypse. Music that, once again, gets inside your bones, laying down roots. So while questions of humanness might be too vast for a 68-minute runtime, here’s to long drives with Berninger’s baritone soundtracking our individual search for answers. Lauren Baxter

Alex Lahey

Bad Religion

Nicky Boy Records / Caroline

Epitaph

End Of Suffering

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International Death Cult

The Best Of Luck Club

Age Of Unreason

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The Best Of Luck Club feels like a haven of sorts — somewhere to go, no matter your mood. The versatility in sounds, styles and stories will have you swept up in the glory of Alex Lahey in no time at all. The unpredictability throughout each song becomes an entertaining ride. What we love about Lahey is the authenticity and relatability of her songwriting. She doesn’t over-romanticise her stories, they tell it how it is, and The Best Of Luck Club is testament to that and more. It’s indie-pop versus rock, created by a powerhouse of an artist, who appears to be simultaneously the coolest and daggiest person you’ve ever met.

Let’s not pretend that Bad Religion’s 17th LP is much different than the 16 that came before it (Into The Unknown excluded, naturally). In fact, most noticeable is that the band haven’t lost a step despite losing both Brooks Wackerman and Greg Hetson in the lengthy gap between now and 2013’s True North. Age Of Unreason sticks to the Bad Religion formula with 14 cuts of gloriously melodic, hard-driving punk rock interspersed with a few mid-tempo stompers. It’s a cliche, but Bad Religion don’t make bad (ahem) records. Age Of Unreason is another entry in what must now be considered the greatest back catalogue in all of punk rock.

Keira Leonard

Mark Hebblewhite

The Music

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A L B U M R E V IE W S

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

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To paraphrase Tywin Lannister chastising Joffrey, anyone who tells you they’re punk are not actually punk. Such is the case here, or at least in the band’s present incarnation. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ third album is a meat-and-potatoes collection of alt-rock that offers no real challenge to any sort of establishment. While it’s undeniably easy to listen to and is extremely competent, it has the listener drifting off to other farbetter bands. You wish their songwriting abilities rose to meet their ambitions — the results would’ve been stellar. Matt MacMaster

Profile for TheMusic.com.au

The Music (Sydney) May 2019 Issue