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LAST QUOKKA Unconscious Drivers gets 9/10


Last Quokka

Unconscious Drivers
Stock Records and Mass Prod (FR)

9/10

Last Quokka’s Unconscious Drivers is a refreshing blast of real and raw punk. As you’d expect there is plenty of social commentary, but it’s undercut with a keen Australian pisstaking sensibility that desentisizes the listener to any possibility of preachiness.

Rousing opening track Privilege is an acerbic takedown of “keyboard warriors,” with snarling lines referencing “Bleeding heart commies/ Social justice warriors.” There is, it’s clear, no relenting with Last Quokka. Trent Rojahn is a magnetic vocalist. Whether it’s the sacrilegious line “Where is your God now?” on Saints or “I see people/ See them killing/ See them dead” on the impactful People, his delivery is rough and rollicking. He screams, he snarls, he growls.

The wry and raucous Wake Up Geoff, as previously reviewed by us, strikes a sublime balance between serious and sardonic. Geoff Gallop, of course, was the former Premier of Western Australia and the song is Last Quokka’s way of reminiscing about his time. He might not have been perfect, as no politician is, but he represents a better figure than the ones we have to deal with now. Come for the comical Australian satire, stay for the perfection that is the line “Geoff Gallop back into my heart.”

There are tracks of danceable DIY punk to break up the heavier socio-political commentary, like the short and sudden Turquoise Bay and the moody and aggressive Punks in the Palace. The highlight, though, is the searing Colony. A hesitant drum beat leads into Rojahn’s lyrics, which are vehemently spat out: “I never got down on my knees/ I never took an oath for you/ Never swore loyalty to this country/ So fuck you and your colony,” he begins, and it’s obvious that every syllable is meant and felt. The vivid imagery of “This union jack is a nazi stamp” makes the song feel like a companion piece to Last Quokka’s previous song Nazi Scum.

Proceedings are quietened as the record nears its end. Suffocation features a melancholic guitar line that is less angry and more contemplative. Pictures of the End is a delicate post-rock piece, filled with a sad and ponderous violin (by Madeleine Antoine). Rojahn’s sighing vocal, sounding like Silver Jews’ David Berman – is tired, exhausted, and understandably so.

Unconscious Drivers was released on September 4 via Stock Records and Mass Prod (France) with a launch show at Fremantle’s Clancy’s Fish Pub. Thrashing and thriving punk like Last Quokka’s demands to be witnessed live, in all its glorious mosh pit mayhem. But this album could do little more to capture that energy on record. It’s clear these “anti-fascist punks from the most isolated city on the planet” have both anger and humour to spare, making for one of the best releases of the year.

CONOR LOCHRIE

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