Cro Memory Grin LP
Some bands are bands. Others, due to chance, perseverance or sheer necessity, are something else. Maybe the band rejects “productivity” in terms of gigs, recordings or even anything approaching a consistent sound, and marches headlong into building a mythos instead. Maybe, in doing so, they become this shared vehicle for the struggles, pain, growth, life and fucked up times of the people in and around them. In hardcore, you can get impatient or cynical with this approach when you see it, or you can get on board with it and let it carry you away. OILY BOYS, you see, is more of a gang affiliation than a band; obtuse, nonsensical and ultimately overpowering. It’s unfortunate, yet likely, that the name will mean little to anyone outside of Australia, not dissimilar to that of LOWLIFE, a group with which they share members, the city of Sydney and a similar level of cult dedication. Calling any album “long-awaited” is a tired trope, rarely true, but the promised delivery of Cro Memory Grin has been a mysterious future threat hanging over pretty well the entire existence of the band. This LP has transcended the status of meme and become real only after adherents have come to learn by heart almost every song on it through live rendition. This gives it a cheeky whiff that’s equal parts “late birthday gift from Absent Father” and “The second coming of Jesus Christ.” It also immediately transports you to a gig. OILY BOYS live is always a special type of orchestrated humiliation for someone, occasionally even the band themselves. You know what it is you seek. Haggard surfers brutalised for pit infractions. Someone’s huffing spray paint. Caught in a dissociative mosh. A lot of drugs. A bit of damage. I was scared but only the first time. Live and on record are two contexts which are sonically an almost circular Venn diagram here, no small achievement and it’s a Micky Grossman joint so naturally it sounds larger than the known universe. “Lizard Scheme” sounds like four people dragging themselves through what they were promised was just a trial shift at the mechanical abattoir. What is life, if not the repeated process of biting off much, much more than we can chew? What elevates OILY BOYS way beyond basic bitch bad boy bravado is that this is a group seemingly invested in the denial of shame at any cost. It figures that the whole record is awash with proud declarations of personal brokenness, steeped in masc inversions that don’t let you assume, daring you to test for exaggeration, lying in wait for an opportunity to self-disclose. Personal misery worn like a badge, without pose, freed up from the trauma in the very telling of it. For a minute, there. “Heat Harmony” is their hit, awash with squall, a rare moment where you can still almost make out a moshable beat from the wreckage. “Stick Him,” the pre-flip long one, is the frontal lobotomy you’ve booked for three weeks in the future. You know you’ve gotta go. It is my deepest pleasure to announce that the song on this record titled “GTrance” is the one that sounds the most like the ’MAGS. Back alley with a bad pinger or three. “I can’t get away, maybe I don’t want to,” it climaxes in an abject summation of stuck lives no one asked to live on hot stolen land at the end of the earth. What, on that basis, does it look like to submit to the worst? To hope that the dark night of the soul never ends, so we can all stay exactly this high and exactly this sad at the terminal stuck groove of an afters? OILY BOYS plough on with the sacred knowledge that, with enough lubrication, we might all just slide on out through the other side. Glistening.