Release Date: Sep 14, 2018
Record label: Wichita
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It's not easy growing up. All the awkwardness, confusion, and emotional upheaval experienced on a daily basis can be pretty hard to handle. Now imagine doing it on-stage and on record. The members of the Goon Sax were only 17 when their first album, Up to Anything, was released -- it positively ached with growing pains and almost every song was cringingly real as if it was cribbed from a diary and set to sparsely hooky guitar pop.
When James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones released the debut Goon Sax album, 'Up to Anything', in 2016, they were 17 and still at school. It was a gentle blast of lo-fi indie punk, with charmingly nervous lyrics about growing up and finding out who you are. Its follow up, 'We're Not Talking', sees this Australian trio turning 19. And as anyone knows, a lot can happen in two years.
Whenever we hear a young band who excels at writing music at a level that appeals to adults, we usually treat them with either condescension or blind praise. Brisbane indie-pop trio The Goon Sax fit somewhere in the middle for those who've heard their songs, if only because they have the musical taste of forty to fifty-year-olds even if their lyrical content goes in accord with their twenty-year-old selves. But there are also those little references throughout their latest album, We're Not Talking, which reveal they could probably be smarter than most adults.
If you didn't know better, you'd think that Brisbane's The Goon Sax were lovable amateurs on the road to maturity. And there's some merit to that— though still a jangly tangle of adolescent nerves, We're Not Talking bumps the trio into even brighter paisley territory as they explore the friction and ache of a couple's first breakup. But don't get too gushy: Louis Forster (son of Robert Forster) writes these diary entries in his father's shadow, and songs like "She Knows" and "Love Lost" still echo his Go-Betweens heritage.
Speak-singing is the enemy of strict choirmasters and the refuge of wannabe frontpersons too nervous to sing for real. Formally known as sprechgesang, a German word coined in the 1900s to describe the expressionist vocal technique used in operas, speak-singing has since shown up in practically every genre of popular music. And no matter how often it's used, whether by Jonathan Richman or Courtney Barnett, it retains its imperfect charm, allowing each artist's unique inflections to warp the notes that carry their words.
Taking an unplanned month off from writing album reviews was certainly not a good thing in terms of keeping up with the avalanche of new releases from this September. Hence, with apologies - or perhaps with some relief - to those more used to this writer's wafflier critiques here below is a global-trotting sift through a month's worth of things pulled from the towering reviews pile. Thalia Zedek Band - Fighting Season (Thrill Jockey) Thalia Zedek Band - Fighting Season Now contently alternating LPs between her solo ensemble and art-rock trio E, Boston veteran Thalia Zedek unveils a fresh platter with the former, soon after the latter's Negative Work album from earlier this year.
The second album by The Goon Sax, 'We're Not Talking', sees the Brisbane three piece growing in confidence, with flashes of brilliance at regular intervals throughout. Central to its charm is the voice and nascent charisma of Louis Forster, the son of a Go-Between who somehow manages to wear his indie pop lineage lightly and on his own terms. There's no getting around the fact that Forster, now 19, has chosen to follow his own indie pop into not only music, but the exact same genre of music in which said pop is so venerated.
Photo by Ben O'Connor The Goon Sax is a post-punk threesome out of Brisbane that made a splash two years ago with Up to Anything, a collection of fetchingly slack and teen-aged moody songs about sweaty hands and home-made haircuts and the daily dissatisfactions of adolescent life. The album was disconsolately charming in a lo-fi way, a bed-headed, under-dressed, shyly engaging piece of work that might very well have gotten buried except that the singer, Louis Forster, is the son of one of the Go-Betweens (the other players are James Harrison who switches off on guitar and bass with Forster and Riley Jones, a singing drummer). Not that it would have deserved it.