Melbourne punk quartet Press Club have released their debut album Late Teens and I have to say right off the bat, it’s the perfect name for this album. Late Teens is eleven tracks of frenetic, blistering energy that perfectly encapsulates the fury, isolation, despondency and defiance that’s pretty much universal to everyone in that period. Recorded at Melbourne’s Aviary studios, the album is a distillation of over 40 tracks written by the band after converting bassist Rufio MacRae’s house into a temporary song-writing sweatshop. Drawing upon the experiences of their friends and people they know for subject matter, Late Teens tackles issues of displacement and creeping gentrification, toxic relationships, gender inequality, self reflection and turmoil.
Opening track Crash begins with rising toms, feedback and a simple guitar line. It builds in a way that feels almost tribal. Vocalist Nat Foster’s voice is tight, close mic’ed and powerful. Like Iggy’s on Raw Power. The way the guitars feedback and rumble through separate channels sounds great and a real testament to the DIY production chops of this band. Who recorded, mixed and mastered this album themselves (even the cover is put together by Foster). But then this track drops to reveal versatility in the vocals, before giving you the one-inch punch to the plexus. It rises and falls in a way that perfectly mirrors the lyrics of cerebral confusion
It’s a theme that runs through to Headwreck. It’s unbridled and blistering. But also gives itself a decent amount of space just as powerful as its thunderous riffs. Calling out those that delight in relationship headology, like the lyrics scream, don’t be that guy.
Recent single release Suburbia gives the false impression there’s going to be a tender ballad, but not a chance. It drives with intensity but there’s some Oh, Oh’s that almost come close to pop sensibilities. Make no mistake, this is great songwriting. Back to the Raw Power comparison, The Stooges weren’t given credit for the meticulous skills they put into their songwriting. Listeners were often unable, or unwilling to see past the visceral fury. It’s evident with Press Club these are values they hold dear and Suburbia will speak, or rather shout dearly to anyone that’s grown up feeling physically and mentally walled in by picket fences.
Elsewhere, on My Body’s Changing, you can almost feel the sweat in the recording room and the live tracked guitars in each channel is another great production touch. Golden State begins with an almost do-wop punk of Ramones and the aforementioned Stooges. But it changes up on you, not just once, but a few times and once again Fosters vocal is pure emotion.
Not sure if Side B was their way of a little joke about they can flip things over. But after such a turbo charged first 5 tracks, you’re just hanging on tenterhooks, waiting for the kick. But it doesn’t come in this instrumental interlude that leads into Ignorance. A track that almost feels like it’s dialed back a bit. But Press Club play at an 11 that Nigel Tufnell could only aspire to. This is still anybody else’s 10. It’s fast and it burns with authentic intensity. The drums of Let It Fall are immense with the pre-record hiss and imperfections only add to Late Teens’ appeal. Trading Punches is a must for SoCal Punk lovers and will resonate with anyone whose biggest fight is often with themselves.
The title track of the album has a great way of switching up and if I could level one criticism of Late Teens, it would be that I’d have loved the bass line in this track higher in the mix. However, as somebody who’s never written, recorded, produced and mastered neither my own, or anybody else’s album. Maybe I should just shut the f*ck up.
Ending with Stay Low, it’s an anthem for the excluded and further illustrates there’s more at play with Press Club than frenetic energy. I can see it being a great number to bring the curtain down on a live set and perfect for ending this album. Raising the realization that I NEED to see Press Club live.
Late Teens is an album of fury and frustration. Whether you’ve ever felt excluded from society, from inner calm or from the economy, this album will speak deeply with you. If you’ve ever felt excluded from the music business, Late Teens is an inspiration to just pick up and do it all yourself. If you’ve never felt any of those things, this is just an album of great tunes. So go and get it.
Late Teens is available on limited colour vinyl / CD / Digital HERE
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