THE STRESS OF LEISURE
Eruption Bounce (Plus One)
You can laugh all the way through the new album from Brisbane’s The Stress Of Leisure, beginning with Pulled Pork, which is – yes – about chopped up pig product (and calamari rings, among other things) as a metaphor for trite politics and manufactured nationalism. Think of it as the real democracy sausage.
There’ll be guffaws while learning about the joys of multi-national relationships and racist bonding in I Want The Internet (“I want it now!”), a raised eyebrow hearing about an architectural love affair in Nice Building (“think I wanna die there …. Think I want to buy that, oh yeah”) and some nervous laughter in the disquieting I Thought You Were Young (“I thought you were young/I’ve been holding my stomach in so hard”).
You will also at the very least smirk during I Wanna Be Adult – the missing “an” allowing for a bonus play on words - as the band introduce themselves (much in the manner of the B-52s’ on their first album) with such insights as “Hi my name is Jane, I play the bass guitar and in 3 ½ years I will manifest my own dream destination wedding” and “hi, my name is Jess and I play the drums and I want to manage my own diverse investment portfolio”.
Long settled now as a band, with Pascalle Burton on synths, Jessica Moore on drums and Jane Elliott on bass, alongside founder/guitarist/singer Ian Powne, TSOL are comfortable being droll or maybe simply smart arses. It’s their obvious USP - a term I’m sure they have sung about, or will. But it’s not their chief weapon.
That would be a direct line to some artful post-punk and sharp industrial synth-pop which connects Gang Of Four and Scattered Order, Talking Heads and Peep Tempel, B-52s and early Models, Devo and Total Control.
These songs can jerk and jump like stiff-legged robots in flowerpot hats, run headlong into the water like pale artschool students discovering surf and sun, or throw themselves at the nearest body with joyful abandon.
Eruption Bounce is in its own way a dance record that lives up to that title: Moore’s drums the consistent beatmaker and Elliott the feet mover, while Powne and Burton trade riffs that can be biting (I Thought You Were Young), swirling (We’re Not The Types) or surprisingly grand (Too Much Sitting).
While Powne’s declamatory singing is rather familiar to anyone who has heard LCD’s James Murphy, his antecedents are at least as old as Murphy’s while emotions are more contained than the New Yorker’s work.
It makes TSOL songs about buildings and food less moving, more angular and pointed. Which is just fine with me.