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AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS Amyl And The Sniffers gets 8.5/10

Amyl and the Sniffers
Amyl and the Sniffers
Flightless Records

8.5/10

If you’ve ever seen an Amyl and the Sniffers show, you’ll know how this album starts: a full-blown ‘cock rock’ assault of guitar shreds, banging drums and screaming vocals.

But there ain’t no cock when it comes to frontwoman Amy Taylor, a manic and magnetic mess of energy that takes no shit. Straight out of Melbourne – and unashamedly embracing their inner bogan – Taylor leads Gus Romer (bass), Bryce Wilson (drums) and Declan Martens (guitar) to produce good old fashioned Australian rock music, complete with ripped jeans and mullets. It could just all be a gimmick, but it works.

The opening track, Starfire 500, very clearly announces what you’re in for with this self-titled debut album. Throwing back to a raw 1970s and 80s scene when bands like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and the Divinyls ruled, the tracks are short, catchy and perfect for a drunken singalong or a hectic beer-fuelled mosh on a Saturday night. The lyrics are full of foul-mouthed and visceral imagery, an authentic tribute to the working – or non-working – class.

Hidden amongst the calamity, the tracks tackle contemporary issues such as homelessness and poverty (Gacked on Anger), and violence and toxic masculinity (GFY [Go Fuck Yourself]). Breakthrough single Cup of Destiny unashamedly points the finger straight at alcoholism (“look at the bottle, look at the glass, there is your future, there is your past”) perhaps exploring private struggles with alcohol, too often a side effect of the music scene.

The themes presented on the album prove that making a statement doesn’t have to be limited to quirky folk songs. Punk as a genre has always had its roots in social commentary. It’s not all sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, although these themes certainly aren’t left out.

Love and sex is publicly exhibited no-holds-barred in Got You (“buy me a drink and my eyes glaze over”) and Shake Ya (“there’s the park where we first made it, a memory that is worth saving”). Contrasting with blind infatuation and rejection in Angel (“I wanna be your little angel, but your little angel didn’t make the cut”) and bitter replacement in Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled) (“You’ve got a new dog, do you remember me, she walks around on my old leash”). The latter hints at speaking out about bad relationships (“Some mutts can’t be muzzled, I guess I’ve got you puzzled/ Woof woof”), but no clues are given whether the themes of the two songs are related.

Amyl and the Sniffers have been getting worldwide attention, taking Aussie pub-rock to the highbrow hipster punters at the likes of SXSW, Primavera Sound and Roskilde. Although international audiences might not quite get it, it’s nice to know the rest of the world is experiencing a bit of bogan pride.

This is a unique brew for 2019, but it won’t be everyone’s bevy of choice. If you like your rock loud and abrasive, Amyl and the Sniffers are a bandwagon sure worth jumping on.

Q

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