Frenzal Rhomb – Hi-Vis High Tea
Released: May 26th, 2017
Jay Whalley // Singing/yelling
Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall // Guitar
Tom Crease // Bass
Gordy Forman // Drums
How does one even undertake reviewing an album from the sub-culture behemoth that is Frenzal Rhomb? Their quarter century of punchy, vulgar, socially-conscious, unforgiving and disarmingly intelligent Aussie-punk tunes sprawls through the history like a metaphorical plane of eloquent, deciduously cultural swear word trees. Navigating this craggy expanse to arrive at the unprecedentedly introspective Hi-Vis High Tea is no easy task for a bloke that has looked folks dead in the eye for literally two thirds of his life and stated “Frenzal are my favourite band of all time”.
On second thought, who gives a fuck how I review it. The band won’t give a shit anyway, as long as my little critical clamour for attention doesn’t utterly throw these perpetually hospitalized punk stalwarts under the bus and cost them record sales, she’ll be right. Luckily, the album isn’t a big pile of shit, it’s actually quite good and surprisingly emotive at times. But don’t stress, there’s still hit singles called ‘Cunt Act‘ and ‘I’m Shelving Stacks (As I’m Stacking Shelves)‘ proving once and for all that some cunts – relievedly – never fully grow up.
From sweaty early-00’s Freeza gigs where stupidly dressed kids were going the pash waiting for Blue Line Medic to finish so Frenzal could play half of A Man’s Not a Camel and we could all mosh in some dilapidated outer-suburbs town hall, to their now infamous HMV Bourke Street gig where rowdy young punks eviscerated the building and half of its stock during a terribly thought out instore show in support of album San Souci, Frenzal Rhomb has been a jovial and uncompromising rollick through half-famous musical endeavours, ebbing and flowing about mostly controversial pop-culture notoriety for most of their fans’ existences. Hi-Vis High Tea is another successful notch in The Rhomb’s unashamed bedpost.
Described as a concept album with many different concepts, this 20 song swag of fuck-off’s and how-fucked-is-this-shits runs in at about half an hour. Most songs sprint past at around 90-seconds or less, pock-marked with a few two-and-a-bit or three minute epics that only pace themselves for emotional effect, and without managing to overstay their welcome or slow the blistering album pace (much like the touching classic ‘I Miss My Lung‘, but not at all like the equally touching ‘Russell Crowe’s Band (is a Fucking Pile of Shit)‘.
Particular highlights include the aforementioned ‘I’m Shelving Stacks (As I’m Stacking Shelves)‘; the redemptive story of a young person exercising existential escape by stuffing drugs in their arsehole while trapped inside a minimum-wage capitalistic conglomerate job. ‘School Reunion is chock-a-block with repetitive hilarity, and ‘Pigworm‘, the briefly told story of front man Jay Whalley’s life-threatening brush with Cysticercosis is a hardcore belter.
Frenzal’s equivalents of ballads are a mighty fine addition to Hi-Vis. The particularly abject finale ‘Food Court‘ paints a disconsolate picture of the puerile emptiness of shopping malls. It’s a slow, percussionless meditation that’ll hit home for anyone who’s ever stopped, had a big look around the sterile and garish interior of any shopping centre on earth and thought “What the fuck are we all doing?” The glum but engrossing minimalistic approach to song writing Frenzal haven’t previously attempted works well, but will surely rub some punk-or-bust punters the wrong way.
Anyway, that’ll do. Fuck writing a big review for a bunch of such short songs. Frenzal are fucking awesome. They bring political and social injustice to light with a big shit eating grin on their faces, and in this dystopian future of iPhones and miserable, ugly, corrupt, sociopathic, racist, and sexist fuckwits running half the free world, Frenzal are as vital as ever. Cheers cunts, keep telling all the right folks to get fucked, even if you have to stop and share some emotional shit every now and again.
Frenzal Rhomb – Hi-Vis High Tea tracklisting
- Classic Pervert
- Ray Ahn Is My Spirit Animal
- Cunt Act
- Sneeze Guard
- I’m Shelving Stack (As I’m Stacking Shelves)
- The Criminals’ Airline
- Storage Until Pill Press
- School Reunion
- Beer And A Shot
- The Black Prince
- Digging a Hole For Myself
- Don’t Cast Aspergers On Me
- Messed Up
- Everyone I Know Has Mental Problems
- Waiting For The Postman
- Organ Donor
- Food Court
* “I’m a Melbourne post-hippy wanker muso that thinks music shouldn’t be numerically categorized, but put a 7 on there because it’s my favourite number and this album is three less good than the wondrous Forever Malcom Young.”