Release Date: Apr 2, 2013
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Most of the cuts from Lower Plenty’s second LP Hard Rubbish sound as if the band members decided on the bare bones of a song – a key in which to play, perhaps, and a tempo to stick to – and then put in ear plugs to actually record the thing; completely absorbed in their own improvisation, entirely divorced from the other musicians around them. The result is not only a hauntingly engrossing record - in its ability to square the circle of being at once unbearably bleak as well as coyly enchanting - but it’s also a perfect synthesis of form and content, translating loneliness into 20 minutes of unrelenting intensity. “Loneliness is the biggest killer of them all”, goes the arresting first line of ‘Strange Beast’ – and indeed, these themes of isolation, sadness and destitution are uncannily reflected in the music; arrangements which sound like their components are skulking about as far away from each other as possible, without the wheels coming off altogether.
Droll, casual, immaculate, Melbourne outfit Lower Plenty’s debut Hard Rubbish seems to base its paradigm on oxymorons, to the extent that it’d probably be an oxymoron to call the record oxymoronical. The issue is that it’s both an incredibly easy and impossibly difficult album to categorize and define, which is probably the aim of a lot of musicians when it comes to how they want to be received—but where most strive and fail, Lower Plenty achieve this quality rather effortlessly, organically. I’m tempted to invoke Nick Drake comparisons when hearing that equal parts quaint/melancholic guitar figure that slowly drives “Friends Wait, “ but singer Al Montfort (or Jensen Tjhung, not sure which) croaks more than croons, and yet if it’s a croak it’s a croon of a croak.
‘Hard Rubbish’ is a quietly devastating album. Created by a collective of local heroes in the Melbourne music scene known as Lower Plenty, it was originally conceived around a kitchen table with what sounds like actual hard rubbish, i.e. junkyard-quality acoustic guitars, tinny drums and the occasional smog of polluted electronic noise. The band then used these dirty/pretty things to extract their own (very septic) emotional waste and leave it out in the universe for someone else to collect.