FOR Australian rock fans, this supergroup is a match made in heaven: two members from Beasts of Bourbon and two from the Drones combining to make a beautiful racket.
On the group’s self-titled debut, the best of both bands can be heard: smart lyricism, enviable energy, finely tuned ears for melody and fantastic guitar sounds.
Drones leader Gareth Liddiard doesn’t sing here, but his sonic fingerprints are all over these nine tracks: spiralling natural harmonics, whammy-bar flexes and overwhelming klaxon-call effects in the coda of Freak Out. Removed from the context of his masterful songwriting – Jones is the only lyricist here – it’s apparent exactly how exceptional and valuable Liddiard’s guitar playing is: no other rock guitarist in the world sounds like he does. The noise is enthralling.
When He Finds Out is the centrepiece, filled with unsubtle innuendo and stretched across eight gripping minutes: “Blood is thicker than water, your father screams and shouts / I shudder to think what he’ll do when he finds out,” sings Jones, while James Baker’s hi-hat bounces out an uneasy rhythm and Fiona Kitschin’s sparse bass notes add to the mystique. There’s no humour here, just unresolved tension: the extended guitar freak-out is effectively a stand-in for a violent confrontation. Fearsome stuff.
Elsewhere, titles such as When Friends Turn and Duplicity hint at the headspace Jones was in while writing. Not a second is wasted: at 39 minutes, the album feels tantalisingly brief and demands repeated listens. This is an absorbing and cathartic collection of songs performed by four accomplished musicians. Not to be missed.