On a Hook LP
This Australian band’s fourteen-song debut LP is chock full of good, simmering punk edging on hardcore, but is completely killed by basically monotone, yelped vocals which work within this same repetitive delivery. Song to song, it doesn’t matter the lyrics, the lead vocals largely find a pattern within a song: working low to ending on a high sharp note, and repeating it regardless of the lyrical content within the same continued vocal range across the entire record. Lyrics are punk’s greatest strength: being able to hear what someone is singing about, being able to understand why they are yelling, relate to it, and sing along is all power, and it’s power that people seem to largely have set aside for either lack of lyrics they actually believe in or to make the music sound more brutal by having the vocals be unrecognizably gnarly. Here the band seems to actually have relatable, relevant lyrics delivered in a stream of consciousness about climate change, Silicon Valley cyber-snooping, and fighting fascism, but the vocals aren’t gnarly. They’re shrilly, barked repetitively, nulling any impact over this long of a recording. Backing vocals break it up a little, and the music is solid crunchy punkers with bullish leads and sturdy drumming, but the vocals are pretty much a dealbreaker. The cover is a spiral line drawing of decapitated chicken heads, with the back cover of a decapitated chicken getting a drop of liquid dropped inside from an eyedropper.