It’s hard to resist an album with a title like Hoo Ha!, so I was, ahem, naturally keen to find out what all the fuss was about.
The fourth album by Adelaide punks Bad Dreems, it’s the latest in an Aussie guitar renaissance, that’s seen bands like The Chats and Pist Idiots getting international attention.
Spearheading this new wave are the mullet- headed Melbourne Bogan Blondie Amyl and the Sniffers whose producer Dan Luscombe takes the controls on Hoo Ha!.
The bands share a similar energy and humour though Bad/Dreems are angrier in their love/hate portrayals of the Ocker Aussie working class male experience.
Often compared to fellow Antipodeans AC/DC and The Go-Betweens, on this evidence Bad/Dreems sound more like early Damned, with the political sensibility and anthemic choruses of The Clash.
There’s a fair bit of Paul Westerberg’s Replacements thrown in for good measure as well.
What sets them apart is the strength of songwriting partnership Ben Marwe and guitarist Alex Cameron.
The characters Marwe embodies may not always be admirable, but they are complex, well-rounded and rendered with genuine authenticity.
As with previous albums there’s a preoccupation with the seamier side of life Down Under, the danger lurking behind the facade of suburban middle class culture.
In Waterfalls an angry character prowls the streets, spouting streams of consciousness, but is he malevolent, or just hard done by? It’s up to us to decide.
The band weave in less salubrious elements of Australia’s history into the mix – railing at the whitewashing from school text books of Aboriginal and First Nations heroes on Jack.
In a similar vein, Mallee looks at the ugly side side of early days of the colony ‘a race to the bottom’ with ‘massacres of the mudflats’.
Mansfield 6.0 probes the more recent past, with riots against Covid-19 restrictions taking place even as an earthquake strikes in September 2021.
Toxic masculinity is personified by the pub ranter on See You Tomorrow, while the bitter New Breeze sounds like John Lydon at his most vituperative.
Marwe’s lyrical dexterity reaches its zenith on Black Monday, the singer spitting lines like a hyperactive auctioneer.
While the subject matter is often bleak, the music is melodic with up tempo riffs and dynamic choruses. Occasional keyboards and even flute lighten the mood, like lanterns in the darkness.
There are moments of real poetry too on songs like Shame, Godless and No Island, while the excellent Collapse! seethes with explosive tension.
A thoughtful, powerful and sometimes brutal piece of work.