Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Over the course of five years and more than a dozen releases, Brisbane art-rockers Blank Realm have veered in and out of sonic focus, sometimes going all in for abstract, hiss-smothered synthscapes, sometimes weird, clattering outsider pop, and various places between and beyond. Go Easy is by far their most accessible yet, balancing the arty with the party beautifully to make for a set of danceable, hook-filled songs that bubble and bloom with an almost biological rampancy, shooting out tendrils of strange, snaking melody in every direction like vines enveloping a ruin. Acting Strange opens the album with a wriggly little riff twisting through a swirling cloud of noise, somewhat reminiscent of cult art-punks Chrome; Cleaning Up My Mess slows things down to a lilting, sunny lollop and adds some sweetly frazzled chants and an enormous, gorgeous spiral of a chorus; Working on Love is an irresistible wonky stomp that grabs and won't let go.
The music of Australian quartet Blank Realm is pretty shambling, and that's a big part of their charm. They often stick raw jams and abstract sounds between crafted tunes, and even their sharpest stuff has a loose, wandering quality. Think of it as structured chaos-- or as member Daniel Spencer (one of three siblings in the group) explained in 2008, "It's something we have control over but also kind of don't." The results can be tedious, but more often they’re engaging, and sometimes even moving.
One of the most accessible releases in Blank Realm's prolific catalog -- and not just because Fire Records reissued it for wide release six months after it was initially issued on Bedroom Suck -- Go Easy feels like the culmination of all the noisy cassettes and CD-Rs the band made in the five years before it. Some of that noise has been stripped away -- it doesn't feel like a coincidence that there's a song called "Cleaning Up My Mess" -- and what remains has been focused and harnessed, but not to the point where things ever feel too predictable; the aptly named "Pendulum Swing" oscillates between tempered verses and guitar freakouts for nearly nine minutes. Relatively speaking, these may be some of the band's tightest songs, yet the joy of hanging out and jamming resonates throughout Go Easy and especially on songs such as the garagey "Working on Love.
So, yeah, this record sounds a hell of a lot like Sonic Youth sometimes. Be it the labyrinthine noise-punk of opener “Acting Strange” or Sarah Spencer’s vocal invocation of Kim Gordon, there’s a distinct similarity in how Brisbane’s Blank Realm approach song structure and an emphatic yet disaffected hip-rock tonality. But there are also plenty of moments and whole songs that seem cut from a different cloth.
Although Brisbane’s Blank Realm have been releasing music since around 2007, Go Easy is the Australian quartet’s first widely available album. After years of limited vinyl, CDR and cassette affairs for the likes of Not Not Fun, Music Your Mind Will Love You and Bedroom Suck Records, the foursome has finally found a label to push them into the wider world, in the shape of Fire Records. The timing is almost impeccable from a creative viewpoint.
“Will you clean up my mess again?” Ok, so we know Richard Hell was talking nihilism. His fabled Blank Generation stood in staunch opposition to the failed idealism of the hippy dream; bathed in defeat and ruin; recognising that if it’s all for naught, you may as well do what the f*ck you want. He was saying “get me out of here” before he was even born, although he’s still kicking around, so what would he think of 2013’s broken-down, end-of-days mindset? We’re beyond mere generational talk here: pop culture has eaten and regurgitated itself so many times that all that’s left to do is re-arrange the excremental remains in as many different patterns as we can.