Three years on from sophomore release, I Just Do What God Tells Me To Do, the third full-length release from These New South Whales delivers in spades. The multi-faceted chameleons of Australian punk/post-punk have grown their signature sound, with the schedule of pre-release singles from the album giving a tasty sampler of the album’s full wares.
This release sees them continue the relatively unprecedented balancing act of being a serious punk band whilst having their own Comedy Central mockumentary series (with season 3 in the works), a parody late-night talk show TNSW Tonight! and a hit podcast What A Great Punk, which has boasted guests including members of Tame Impala, DMAs, Stella Donnelly, The Cure, Black Country New Road and Gang of Youths amongst many others.
It’s also the band’s first “proper” studio album (their debut was recorded in a freezing old WWII bunker), and as a result the songs feel sturdier and more refined. The music has grown from their original, distinctive Australian sound to a more international flavour, incorporating more of the band’s influences from across the years.
Opener and lead single Bending at the Knee raises an eyebrow at the degree of subservience frontman, Jamie Timony witnessed during the pandemic. “Devastated by the flood / And running out of steam” he sings in a Joey Ramone drawl over a gnarly bass line and a winding Horrors-esque guitar riff, tapping into the era’s undercurrent of fear and frustration.
Elsewhere, the end of the world asserts itself across multiple songs. Rotten Sun (based on Ross J. Farrar’s poem of the same name) invokes the inevitability of death with a catchy sing-along chorus…..“All good things will die / And that’ll never change”, while Win is a melancholic musing on success culture. Back To You, Faceless and Going Outta My Mind showcase a more personal songwriting in dealing with matters of ego and awareness, healing from shame, and letting go of negativity.
On a more light-hearted tip, the Purient-featuring Signal is Strong balances traditional pop structure with dissonance and self-loathing, while Best of the Night is a high speed garage banger about speaking to someone at a party that you can’t be fucked speaking to.
Providing the curtain drop is Reset of the World, which arrives like a battering ram in the final hours of a battle. Reeling guitars and frantic blast beat drums drive the instrumental, while Timony careens between heartfelt pleas for future generations (“I demand a reset of the world / I demand a refund for my son”) and sardonic swipes at consumer responsibility (“I clean with the Eco Ajax / Wasted off these rotten pints”). Then it reaches a harrowing crescendo, ringing out into a terrifying Christian lullaby that challenges children to recall sections of the bible on command that sounds like a cheesy daytime TV show from the 80s. The track perfectly encapsulates where the band is at in 2022: raging at the edge of collapse, yes–but not ready to go down without a laugh.
As with all things TNSW, there are checks and balances to the album. While it does deal with heavy subject matter, from anti-government sentiment to climate disaster, they are still songs you could crush beers to. “There’s so much frustration around that kind of stuff, but I think we handle it in a fun-ish way,” says Timony. Where there is poignancy, there is also piss-taking. Where there is cynicism, there is hope. Where there is dark material, there is an earworm melody or a sing-along chorus almost obfuscating its gravity. “Reset of the World is kind of all in the title though.” he adds, laughing.
As you might expect from a self-titled record, the band see it as their definitive statement – bold, cathartic, energetic and emotive. A set of punk songs steeped in religious iconography, political disdain and climate awareness, most notably on closer ‘Rest of the World’ with its imagery of the Garden of Eden and quicksand engulfing the Pyramids. It’s the sound of Aussie punk’s great jokers growing up and sounding brighter and bolder than ever before.
These New South Whales is released on vinyl and digital download via Damaged Records and is available on all of the usual platforms.
Feature Photo: Josh Hourigan