Key Out for me are one of the unsung heroes of the indie music scene in Australia and indeed the world. Newly signed to the magnificent False Peak Records, they have burst back in to our lives with the magnificent ‘afterville’, a follow up to 2020’s ‘anthropomorphia’ (described by me as ‘stunning’ and ranked in the global top 50 album releases that year by Backseat Mafia). ‘afterville’ is quite simply another triumph. It is a delicate and delightful collection of gems that glitter and sparkle with a melancholic, aching joy.
Patrick Haid, main songwriter and singer, exclusively spoke to Backseat Mafia and said of the album:
It’s been an odd year or two to be in indie band. We’ve had to learn some new ways to collaborate from a distance and make music in the absence of a live scene and the sort of community that we’d previously relied on. I think this record reflects that in sound and themes. There’s a link to ‘anthropomorphia’ – but afterville is the next place.
I can say that this album builds on the strengths of ‘anthropomorphia’ and then rockets into outer space. It is a celestial experience.
Opening track ‘Train’ gently chugs along for a brief but indelible minute with hypnotic acoustic guitar strokes, Haid’s vocals with its wry, observational style that is drenched with desire and melancholy.
The delicate and shimmering sounds of ‘Face’ are filled with lusciously jangling guitars, deep and evocative lyrics and a sense of eternal longing that threads its way through the melodies as Haid sings I miss your face with haunting and wry doo wop who are you backing. It features the trademark Key Out pop sensibilities that run rampant through the album: is really pulse quickening stuff.
The lyrics and the accompanying video feature Key Out’s trademark fey and wistful demeanour – referencing the exigencies of the COVID era, separation and longing, coping with isolation and distance from loved ones. A serious matter for our times, but treated with a self-deprecatory sense of humour in the video: gentle and wry.
‘Tree’ is ethereal and haunting, opening with a bare jangle and ghostly vocals that float in the sky. As the percussion kicks gently in, the song takes on a spiritual apparition like some gospel choir over the cyclical music: transfixing and mesmerising. Almost discordant guitars twist and yearn in the distance as the song fades. Graceful and beautiful.
‘Drive’ has that indefinable Key Out sound: mesmerising shimmering folds of instrumentation that daub brushstrokes from a colourful multi-layered palette, with Haid’s floating, yearning vocals sailing across the canvas, adding a sparkling lustre.
‘Drive’ has an epic majesty about it: evoking, as Key Out often do in their songs, a sense of timelessness and place: capturing filtered sunlight on a long lazy afternoon across the endless suburban folds of Sydney where the bright blue sky seems without end or definition. The lyrics (I believe) contrast a Monday morning dull routine – the stultifying ennuis of life – with the potential of freedom in a car with endless hypnotic journeys. The music is fittingly transfixing and hypnotic with a chorus that fills the heart.
‘Together’ presses ever so gently on the accelerator: possible the closest Key Out get to a jauntiness that pops and bubbles along, Haid’s vocals back in the mix as a strings and guitars swell like an ocean tide.
The word wistful was really invented for songs like ‘Invented’. Haid’s vocals almost break with emotion, as they break your heart. A wailing instrument echoes in the distance and the shuffling percussion and acoustic guitars create a soft bed like autumnal leaves.
The anthemic splendour of ‘Small’ leaves no doubt about the brilliance of Haid’s writing: a dreamy, insistent pounding delight that is absolutely celestial with layers of harmonies.
Final track ‘Leaves’ ups the ante with a thundering flow and a bedrock of slightly distorted guitars that leaves a ringing in the ears and a sated feeling.
There is an afterglow that lingers long after ‘afterville’ has finished. It is an album that reflects the enormous talent that is Patrick Haid and his band. Every track is a treasure: evocative, floating in the ether with a restrained dynamism and blinding brilliance, heartbreakingly beautiful in stature and eye watering in its emotion and strength. Key Out are quite simply one of the best and most underrated bands in the antipodean music scene and deserve far more attention.
‘afterville’ is out now and available to download and stream from all the usual sites and through the link below: