Bellwether have been releasing a stream of invigorating, effervescent punk pop finery over the last year: celestial, thundering pieces of shimmering melody cloaking a barbed-wire spine, and we are honoured to bring you an early listen to the EP ‘Impermanence’ ahead of its release tomorrow.
Based in Sydney, the band has grown from a number of local acts into something of some stature: crunchy guitars, scaling harmonies and a pounding rhythm section. The vocals have more range than the Himalayas: going from a soft reflective and contemplative delivery to a powerful roar before a sudden cathartic stop.
This is a pulse-quickening collection of brilliant punk pop with scything guitars and soaring choruses. The band says of the EP, filled with pop culture references:
The title ‘Impermanence’ comes from the line ‘I cannot be a failure stuck in infinite impermanence’ from ‘Kaiba’, with the phrase ‘infinite impermanence’ being a reference to the name of a popular Yu-Gi-Oh! card. We chose ‘Impermanence’ as the title of the EP because it reflected a wider theme that runs across the EP of change and growth. Each of the tracks, in some way, is about changing as a person, and is even reflected in the changing attitudes of the track list, starting in a place of self-doubt and self-loathing, transitioning and ending in self-acceptance. We all exist in a state of impermanence, and the EP is a distillation of that idea.
The EP opens with ‘Ramona Flowers’ – the first sign that the band has a fascination for the uber cool world of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’, appropriating the same cartoonish ebullience and irreverence in their delivery. The choppy scything guitars ring loud, with passionate vocals lined with subtle harmonies.
Second track, ‘Charade’, features layered vocals provide a melodious sheen across the syncopated thundering rhythm section and stabbing guitars.
There is a fascinating story behind the lyrics. Lead guitarist and songwriter Heath Joukadar explains:
‘Charade’ is based on / inspired by the character Knives Chau from the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie and comics. The song is told from her perspective, and is directed towards the titular Scott Pilgrim as she expresses her feelings towards him, having been dumped for Ramona Flowers.
The result is a thoroughly satisfying track.
‘Halfway Happy’ incorporates chiming and ringing guitars that seem to thread their way through Bellwether’s songs, delivered in an anthemic euphoric rush with a hint of urgency and melancholy. The band says of the track:
‘Halfway Happy’ comes from a place of being trapped in the company of someone that makes you feel like you’re always falling short. The song focuses a lot on this pattern of constantly questioning every part of ourselves and feeling like we’re simply not good enough – for ourselves or those around us. When we’re with someone that is always making us doubt ourselves, it’s easy to fall into that mindset and second guess every aspect of ourselves. Reflecting on these kinds of experiences, we see our past mistakes and regrets take shape in the form of insecurities that impact us every day, even years on.
The lyrics reveal a viscerally personal expression:
Every day I pay for the same mistakes
That I made when I was eighteen,
Because who I am blames all I’ve been
But it’s hard not to hate you for everything.
The shadows of doubt and anxiety that cling to us all are exquisitely depicted in this track: pure scuzzy pop delivered with incision and insight. Bellwether combine a thunderous rhythm section with delicate harmonies and subtle guitars. Lovely stuff.
‘Kaiba’ provides a thrilling melodic ride filled with a sense of driving energy and yearning:
‘Shortsighted’ incorporates a Pixies-style quiet/loud ethic and a huge anthemic blast of melody. What is even more impressive is that this was their debut single.
Songwriter and guitarist Heath Joukhadar says of the track:
‘Shortsighted’ is, in essence, a song about self-acceptance. It’s about confronting and admitting your own flaws, while at the same time accepting yourself for who you are and abandoning the expectations imposed onto you by others. That all being said, the song doesn’t take itself seriously, which is not only reflected by the message of the lyrics but also the numerous pop culture and meme references included throughout the track.
We took a lot of inspiration from BoJack Horseman when we were writing ‘Shortsighted’, as he was a character we could all empathise with. BoJack personifies the feeling of never being good enough and we tried channelling that energy into the song. Sometimes you feel like a piece of shit and that’s alright.
A refreshingly self-deprecating sense of humour lurks within the blast. There are elements of Green Day with the indie punk ethos and sense of veracity. Ultimately this is a cathartic and energising track.
‘Impermanence’ is an impressive debut from a band whose musicianship and songwriting is exemplary and whose passion is infectious and exhilarating.
‘Impermanence’ is out tomorrow (Friday, 8 March 2022) and you can pre-save it here. Let the band know via social media sites if you pre-order, and you could win a t-shirt.