Melbourne’s Children Collide have been a vital beating heart of the Australian indie music scene, and after a nine year break are back with swagger and style with their new album ‘Time Itself’, out now through Spinning Top Records.
With a deceptively tamed jangling start, ‘Man of the People’ erupts into a mountainous riff-laden fuzzy psychedelic trip laced with a wild caterwauling guitars and an air of barely contained excess and chaos. An utterly satisfying thumpingly cathartic ride with a sudden stop that leave your senses reeling.
But it’s not all empty noise. The incessant drive and heavy metal thump laced with chemicals carries a strong and heartfelt message of an era that is thankfully and hopefully over. According to frontman Johnny Mackay:
Originally titled ‘Dark Bird’ this was an instrumental I’d written just after Monument. I pulled it out, dusted it off and wrote lyrics in New York at the height of the Trump presidency. I was having a bit of a rock bottom moment personally and my whole world felt like cocaine, mezcal and pathetic desperation against the backdrop of a Murdochian dystopia where the bastards had won. My reaction is always to stuff my hopelessness into an aural time capsule. I love how heavy Loren and Doug made it and the one take solo gives me anxiety when I listen back.
As an aural time capsule, it packs a heady impact. The accompanying video, directed by the mysterious Lord Fascinator, is a simple yet effective performance piece by the band: putting on show their dynamism and enigmatic presence.
The closest any TV program ever got to transferring that true live band energy through the screen was Germany’s Beat Club which ran from ‘65-’72. I’ve done many deep dives on their YouTube Channel. Check out Sabbath, Can, Fanny, MC5, Canned Heat, there’s even one with NEU! & Kraftwerk jamming. Somehow the crude green screen and way it’s edited makes you feel something special, so I really wanted to go for that vibe with this video. The crash zooms referenced old Sonic Youth videos and I added in some funny old Star Wars wipes in the edit then stirred it all into a visual soup to hopefully give people a taste of that live energy in their screens.
It’s a fittingly visual display of the power of the track:
‘Uh Oh’ is a slamming, dynamic piece of pounding rock’n’roll with its insistent rhythms and cool and louche vocals. All inflected with a psychedelic fugue. A hybrid of razor-sharp synths and fuzzy guitars and the cool, wry vocals, a stop/start spine and a swag bag full of attitude make for an enormously enjoyable post punk bash.
Filled with Australian imagery and an indelible insouciant air, it is an utter delight. Quite openly derivative of the best rock’n’roll tropes, Johnny Mackay says of the song:
Ryan and I were walking around a park in Melbourne early 2019 discussing immediate chord progressions that happen in classic rock songs when he said, ‘I think I have something actually.’ The next day he sent me the main riff of ‘Uh Oh’. Aside from the obvious Blur/White Stripes thing it has going on, there are nods to The Stooges, GOD, Prince and even our mates Pond buried in there. My favourite part is getting to sing the line ‘Like an emu scratching round in the outback of my mind’.
Directed by new bassist Chelsea Wheatley, the accompanying performance video is suitably psychedelic, as visually stimulating as the sound, and immensely immersive and cool:
‘Trampoline’ has all the hallmarks of that makes this band so dependable and vital are there: solid hooks, a thumping crunch to the guitars and a spaced out reverie.
Mackay describes Trampoline as:
…an ode to magnetic, magical and emotionally unavailable unicorns who enter your life and bounce you into space once you form a connection.
A lot of this record we were thinking about Sabbath, The Stooges and Sonic Youth but on Trampoline it was late Beatles meeting early Smashing Pumpkins.
There is certainly a trippy psychedelic aura both in the lyrics and mix as well as as the solid guitars.
The accompanying video shifts between bland suburban drabness with its uniformity and bland colour palettes and the band’s vibrant colour soaked perfomance:
‘Turrets’ dials back the guitar bluster in favour of a pop-driven sixties flavoured track punctuated by a yelping chorus that has the wild excesses of The Pixies in full flight. Mackay says of the track:
‘Turrets’ was first pulled together in a jam with Heath and Ryan at Pink Floyd’s old studio Brit Row with producer Youth during our first attempt at our second album ‘Theory of Everything’. Our label and management at the time convinced us to scrap it much to my chagrin. After the jam I sat upstairs and wrote some of my favourite lyrics but I’m not sure I could tell you what the f@ck I’m on about as a whole. It’s just 20 mini stream-of-consciousness philosophies like ‘Sailing down the river Nihilism’ and ‘Turrets are where it’s at.’ Sometimes the meaning comes later I guess.
‘Funeral For A Ghost’ reveals Children Collide’s capacity for varying their driving sound both across and within songs: a heavy metal thunder interspersed with a psychedelic vibe. The latter spaced out vibe rears its head in ‘Mind Spider’: a thumping, fuzzy, driving track that has a hypnotic air as it wanders in to a blistering unbridled jam.
Tracks like ‘Myriad Ways’ and ‘Language is a Prison’ have an angular post punk cut to them: there is an innate freneticism and jaunt to them and an inescapable pop sensibility that reminds me of bands like early Split Enz and Devo.
The final title track has a seventies monstrosity about it – a prog rock space opera style that is magnificent, loud and bold.
‘Time Itself’ the album is at times a snarling, unmuzzled beast and at other times a doped out psychedelic and hazy fugue: a dichotomy that occurs within tracks as much as across the entire album. There is a thunderous spine throughout as well as a refreshing self-deprecatory sense of larrikin humour. This is the sound of a band enjoying themselves immensely and in the process creating something utterly crazy, cathartic and enjoyable.
You can download/stream the album here and listen through the link below:
Children Collide have announced an Australian wide tour for later this year. Details are below:
Tickets on sale now here.
Friday 19 November – Jive, Adelaide SA
Saturday 20 November – Lynott’s Lounge, Perth WA
Sunday 21 November – Mojos, Fremantle WA
Thursday 25 November – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave VIC
Friday 26 November – Howler, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 27 November – The Eastern, Ballarat VIC
Wednesday 1 December – La La La’s, Wollongong NSW (Sold Out)
Thursday 2 December – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
Friday 3 December – Kambri, Canberra ACT
Saturday 4 December – The Newy, Newcastle NSW
Thursday 9 December – The Zoo, Brisbane QLD
Friday 10 December – Eleven Dive Bar, Maroochydore QLD
Saturday 11 December – Studio 56 @ Miami Marketta, Gold Coast QLD
Feature Photograph: Jordan Drysdale