AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS
Amyl & The Sniffers (Flightless)
This kicks arse. Thank god.
Here’s a record which will simultaneously make you think you’re too old, too young, too sober, too pissed, and in need of a haircut. It will also have you wondering if you’re overthinking, everything. But don’t make the mistake of assuming this means dumb, because you don’t get your debut right as often as Amy Taylor, Dec (not Doc!) Martens, Gus Romer, Bryce Wilson and producer Ross Orton, do, by dumb luck.
Let’s get locations happening first because it kinda matters, and it kinda doesn’t.
Amyl And The Sniffers are from Melbourne and sport the full regalia of that city’s bovver-booted/mullet-sporting early ‘70s movement, the sharpies, a look and sound embodied not so much by Billy Thorpe’s boogie bands who ruled the roost with brute overkill, but Lobby Lloyd’s Coloured Balls and later Lloyd’s northern offspring, Rose Tattoo.
However, there’s going to be a lot of recognition here for anyone who was around a bit later in that decade but further up the Hume Highway because a fair bit of this debut album feels like - practically smells like - the post-Radio Birdman bands and the point where they intersected with punk in the late 1970s/early ‘80s.
So, it’s fast, it’s direct, it’s bullshit-free, it’s often thrilling, it’s sometimes punchy more than good, it’s regularly angry, it’s just as regularly sardonic, it’s got power, and it’s got the sense not to overplay that power.
Sometimes, like in Angel and Got You, it’s almost got a surf punk feel: the chanting backing vocals and wriggling guitar of the former demanding you shake your head as you stomp: the shouty voices and razor lines of the latter like being dumped by a wave. But then Punisha is 1 minute and 44 seconds of pure body slam, GFY (a surprisingly coy name for a song whose chorus suggests “you” can, well, go fuck yourself) extends the slam by five seconds and adds sticking your head into the bass bin, and Cup Of Destiny is a straight vertical leap, over and over.
Because of this it doesn’t matter at all if you were a sharpie, if you ever yeah-hupped or head-butted an angry, short bald man on the stage, or really did know a girl in a sweater. This stuff translates itself, and if you don’t get it in about two and a half minutes – on average - there’s another one about to hit you.
The band work with the efficiency of a good mullet. Wilson’s drums and Gus Romer’s bass are all business up front, rarely noticeably doing anything which might be mistaken for decorative, but rather a bullet-headed insistence on getting through, while Marten’s guitars provide the party time variety of slash, prick, slice, stab and, quite likely, julienne.
And pulling and pushing all of this, Taylor’s voice – given some clarity by Orton so you can make out a decent swathe of the lyrics – is just sophisticated enough to vary its presence, but not so much that it forgets its place in the frontal approach of the band. She’s frank and funny too, which is not a bonus but a real point of the overall value.
One more thing, listening to this album makes me want to shout “get a dog up ya”, happily, at any passing Kingswoods. That’s got to be a good thing don’t ya reckon?