On the 26th of January, Guy Fenech, Oliver Marlan and Nick Franklin begun ‘Australia’. As hilarious as that is, we’re not talking about the event that occurred 227 years ago. We’re talking about the event that occurred two years ago on Australia Day of 2013, when those three lads formed a band named (ever so patriotically) Australia.
Forged in the fire of a barbecue over a few beers, there couldn’t be anything more Aussie than the baritone of Guy Fench; this is Australia.
When you think Australian patriotism, I’m sure many a mind will linger on beers, barbecues and all that other pathetically insensitive crap. Then, when you consider the fact they’re all white Australian men who named their own band after their country with a lead singer named ‘Guy’, most might presume a heavy goon/ruffian aesthetic. Wrong. Very wrong.
If you were to compare their sound to anything, you could say that Fenech’s voice is something a little like the vocal lovechild of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gehan, Morrissey and then somehow the lovemaking of that lovechild has included Jack Ladder . That empirical baritone and artistic regard of melody in conjunction with the half electronic, half fundamentally ‘raw’ music provides for a multi-influence/genre/era sounding band fit for a niche, underground, anti-21st-century bar setting.
And you can actually hear constituents of Depeche Mode in there, and the good end of them, and the good end of New Order amalgamated with the good end of everything 80s ‘pop’. Then they’ve taken that sound, made it slower, heavier on production and created something that feels like a semi-accomplished modern interpretation of the year that was 1982, a time when The Voice didn’t exist, and singers were not people who bellowed an overly wide vibrato for over 20 seconds as a pure means of brandishing themselves; in 1982 they were musicians. And musicians do this thing where they combine talent with style and knowledge and a sense of musical grounded-ness, which is where you normally see music become art.
Their first official single Wake In Fright was a hell of a first release. All those influences referenced before, all the great things we’ve regarded in this band’s music, began from day 1. And that’s pretty rare for a group of Australian-indie-rock newborns with a slightly uninventive name. On June 4, Australia released Who R U? If they didn’t have vogue potential before this release, they certainly do now. Guy of Australia (haha) uses his voice in this as an instrument of song; it doesn’t stand out, it melds into the myriad of other sounds and creates what is really the true definition of ‘song’.
Its slower synths and careful drumbeats can be compared to Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders’ Come On Back This Way. Then there’s its video that’s just this bald dude (John Hynd) dancing topless wearing a neck chain, sports hat, covered in ink with a cigarette tucked behind his ear. Which as you watch, you begin to realise that maybe ‘Australia’ wasn’t such an inventive name after all – and with a fantastic sound, these guys might just also have something to say.
Watch this space, because Australia are emerging, in Australia, and fast.