The Hassle was lucky enough to host Melbourne, Australia’s Chook Race, at our very own HQ. For those of you unfortunate enough to have missed out on this gem of a gathering, their new release Around the House on Trouble in Mind Records (Ultimate Painting , Doug Tuttle ), churns with a kinetic emotional undercurrent. Its shimmering melodies and hooks are picturesque as any uncrowded beach, layered impossibly over unfathomable depths. In this way, it sounds like the bittersweet ending to a Gen X movie, the odds and ends of frustration and self consciousness tucked neatly away as the credits roll, triumphant and sobering all at once. This heaviness is carefully packaged into a refreshing kind of garage pop, featuring effortlessly layered male and female vocals, natural in the ups and downs of its portrayals. It’s lovingly melancholy, with its own soft, scintillating energy.
What is most striking about this album is its depiction of continuity, liquid spillovers over the neat edges of a relationship, or the end to one. “Sometimes” provides us with sheepish declarations of doubt, expressed over bubbling over rhythms and guitar riffs. Similarly, “Lost the Ghost” is an easy, mocking critique of declarations of finality. It’s an unassuming treasure of a song that focuses on images of “sprouts pushing through those gaps” in the sidewalk, or “static shocks coming out in the dark,” hinting at the emotional impossibility of clear demarcation, a beginning and end.
Listeners are easily wrapped up in insular meditation. “Eggshells” indulges this tendency. The track presents a personality “crushed and re-assembled,” a plaintive and perfectly fragile image. We hear something like subdued surf rock, bright, popping riffs intermingling with lyrical abstraction. Similarly, “Pink and Grey” thrums with coolness and unhurried melodies. Its vocals describe a day of “watching life go by” a kind of precious pain that is unique to youth, molasses-like days somehow escaping, one by one. In contrast “Sun in Eyes” is snappy and demanding despite its leisurely pace. Its anxious and artful repetition is krautrock-esque, a declaration of “every time I hang out with you/it takes me half a day to put on my shoes” driving the track forward.
As a general rule, this album provides intense lyrical crystallization, compressed images stretched out at a jaunty pace. Take it with you anywhere, and you’ll find yourself in a hazy and heady blur of personal reflection, the equivalent of the body-enveloping sensation of hot tea on a new autumn morning.