Press Club

Wasted Energy

Written by: AP on 17/09/2019 20:42:46

Given the sheer volume of promotional e-mails that land in my inbox on a weekly basis, it is sometimes difficult to fathom how I should ever be able to tell apart the worthwhile from the worthless. Every artist receives maximal hype from their backers, so sometimes it simply comes down to the perseverance of the record label or management agency in pushing their product. This is how the Melbourne, Australia-born indie-punks of Press Club were brought to my attention; through persistent and impactful marketing — though, in retrospect, having now listened to their sophomore album “Wasted Energy”, the quartet really has no need for manufactured hype, as they belong to a rare breed with the ability to catch the listener on the first break.

It is actually quite remarkable how catchy and immediately engaging the album is considering that it was released so soon after its predecessor, 2018’s “Late Teens”. The band wrote and recorded it before their début had even landed in stores and as such it is perhaps the intensity of their work ethic that lies at the heart of the breathless energy with which most of these songs are delivered. The Riot Grrrl inside vocalist Natalie Foster is rarely tempered; this is made clear already in the opening track “Separate Houses”, which is driven in by a buzzing guitar riff reverberating with Fucked Up-esque warmth, and an insistent punk beat you would not put past the likes of PUP. The song is a masterstroke of allurement, and you’ll quickly find yourself singing, “I’m feeling low ‘cause I’m bleeding out in my head / When we both sleep in separate houses / I’m insecure and I’m scared now / We both sleep in separate houses”, with all your heart when the infectious chorus hits the second time. The track also sets up the palette for the rest of the album, which offers vibrant, Japandroids-y melodies en masse, played over shifting, though always driving rhythms as Foster spills the contents of her heart and mind with a mixture of toughness and fragility.

Once the subsequent “Dead or Dying” and “Thinking About You” have whizzed by, one has no doubt gotten the impression that Press Club are not exactly pushing any boundaries as far as the instrumentation goes. But, without inviting much of a spotlight onto themselves, Greg Rietwyk on the guitar, Rufio MacRae on the bass guitar, and drummer Frank Lees behind the drumkit nonetheless supply Foster with the vivid foundation her lyricism demands, ensuring that her sharp commentary on skewed relationship dynamics, the role of women in them and society in general, and heavy topics likes depression and substance abuse hits with maximum impact. Indeed, while you most likely will not be raving about a particular guitar riff, bass lick or drum pattern after the heartbreaking “Twenty-Three” has brought the record to a conclusion, you will almost certainly be left haunted by the honesty and relatability of its lyrical content. Whether she is digging into compulsive lying in “Dead or Dying”, examining the creepiness of stalking in “Thinking About You”, or searching her own soul in order to uncover the roots of narcissism in “Obsessing”, Foster’s thoughts are as uncomfortable as they are relevant, and often leave the listener feeling like the meta-villain around which the songs seem to be built could be any of us.

“Wasted Energy” is thus rendered a deeply personal listening experience with the capacity to provoke thought and induce self-reflection in the band’s audience. If you are not moved at all by ‘punchlines’ like “I can see you’re giving up responsibility to put your mind at ease / […] / With a little regret you give a little apology” (from “Chosen Ones”), “Behave, behave just like you should / Behave, behave just like a woman” (from “Behave”), or “This has to all get better / We have to all get better / Not easy come but easy go / Not everybody’s asking for it!” (in “Get Better”), then perhaps you are indeed part of the problem, and in that case you need to stop being a waste of energy and give this album another thorough listen. But while such themes hang heavy over the music, it is not actually all that dreary. Another thing Press Club excel at is carrying the positive energy of their live performances (allegedly — I am yet to see them) over to their recorded output, which means that when you emerge out the other end after some 37 minutes of listening, you are more likely to feel good and empowered than miserable. “Wasted Energy” is one of the most essential punk records of 2019 thus far, and you would be a fool to miss out on it while the quartet is still fresh and playing dingy, intimate venues.

8

Download: Separate Houses, Chosen Ones, Obsessing, Behave, Same Mistakes
For the fans of: The Distillers, Pkew Pkew Pkew, PUP
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.08.2019
Hassle Records

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