Bodyjar – New Rituals
Released: February 4, 2021
Cameron Baines // Vocals/Guitar
Thomas Read // Vocals/Guitar
Shane Wakker // Drums
Nick Manuell // Bass
It’s 2022 and I’ve been digging deep into the musical vault lately and rediscovering pop punk/punk rock albums from 2002. From Blink-182, Sum 41 and New Found Glory, I began to wonder what Australian rock was like back then (yes, I’m slightly younger than the average Bodyjar fan, being a teenager in the early 2000s) and stumbled across Bodyjar’s Plastic Skies.
Twenty years since then, the Melbourne punk four-piece have become a staple in Australia’s punk rock scene, released killer tunes like ‘Not the Same’ and to celebrate all they’ve achieved since way back, Bodyjar have recorded their seventh album, New Rituals. Despite its title though, the band have revisited their younger selves and in the spirit of embracing “everything old is new again”, written their most mature music yet. All while still keeping the fun of punk rock alive course.
The overall vibe of New Rituals is nostalgic AF and honestly, everything you’d expect from Bodyjar. ‘Burning Truths’ acts as the high-energy riff-fuelled intro that’ll get you pumped even after you’ve had one too many beers at the pub. They’ve packed in so much energy in the first song, and for a twenty-five plus year old band, manage to maintain that consistent vibe all the way through. ‘Billy’ presents a similar, melodic vibe. This time though, the lyrics are defiant — “it’s now or never, don’t leave it too late…” and is the first taste of the band embracing their serious side.
Easily the biggest song of New Rituals is ‘Get Out Of My Head’ and this one is 2000s pop punk energy to a tee. Acting as a strategy to reel in the next generation of punks, vocalist Cameron Baines here doesn’t sound like he’s aged much at all. Honestly this could be this album’s ‘One in a Million’ and one of the best Aussie punk tracks I’ve heard in awhile. While ‘Ignorance’ is Bodyjar’s first attempt on this record at ripping into Australian politics and media, it’s still straight up a fun track that’ll have you singing along straight into ‘Surrender’. Inspired by an environmentalist attitude, ‘Surrender’ features one of the album’s biggest hooks and I’m immediately reminded of a cool combination of Goldfinger and New Found Glory. As Cam mentioned in our chat, it’s a one of those simplistic punk songs that’ll have you really getting into it. Five tracks in and I’m really vibing with this album so far!
If ‘Surrender‘ was too Americanised for you, ‘Big Shot’ brings back the boys’ Aussie charm and is a fuck you anthem to Australian politics and people with fatter wallets than their stomachs. Although ‘Big Shot’ was released almost two years ago, I’d never actually heard the track until now. But through the lyrics, it’s a solid example of why and how the punk rock movement came about in the first place. Rebelling against mainstream norms.
Following track ‘Rain’ is a cover from the 80s originally by Dragon and is most definitely the one song on New Rituals that shows their age. Although it makes for quite the throwback for everyone cracking 40, it comes about quite unexpectedly for an Aussie band who made it onto Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack. But hey, I’m sure it’ll be the one to get into when live gigs return. If you didn’t completely love that though, ‘Pieces’ will reel you back into the golden throwback of 90s/2000s nostalgia. Alongside an upbeat, frivolous melody leading the way, Press Club’s Nat Foster joins Cam in on the second verse for a unique music collaboration celebrating the diversity in Australia’s local music scene.
Things get a little more serious from here, with ‘Be The One’ giving us an empowering track from these punk legends. The riffs are slightly darker and moodier but it’s still as energetic as anything and sits well alongside the boppier tracks like ‘Surrender’. With a spoken verse that aims to encourage the listener to be the change and act now, the track sees the band bring Jon Toogood (Shihad) on the mic to help play out that united front.
‘Tongues’ acts as a follow-up to ‘Big Shot’ with the guitars getting a little heavier and hard-hitting. The melody coming through this track though really threw me back to growing up as a teen in the early 2000s listening to bands like The Living End. At this point in the record, it’s evidently clear that Bodyjar have turned over a new leaf. These last few songs present much more than their pop punkier counterparts, with the lyrics conveying a message of urgency and acting more like a social commentary of today’s society. ‘Reaction’ is one of the best examples of this. It’s a standout song that balances out new and old Bodyjar, with infectious punk hooks (“Oh-oh, Oh-oh…”), hard-hitting riffs and lyrics with added substance.
Final track ‘When the Stars Go Out’ ends the record with a subtle BANG! though. Slowing the pace just ever so slightly, it’s the band returning to their former glory. That’s for those of you who didn’t realise it six tracks ago!
They helped paved the way for Australian punk rock all those years ago, but Bodyjar have come back swinging in an LP that sees the four-piece throw back to their earlier days with extraordinary effort. New Rituals is here for every kind of punk fan. Whether you saw them live in the 90s, 2000s or even mid-2000s, this album will unite fans from all over and will remind you why you got into this music in the first place. If one thing’s for sure though — these punk rock masters are older and wiser, but they’re also ready to show fans that punk rock is well and truly alive in 2022!
Bodyjar – New Rituals tracklisting:
1. Burning Truths
3. Get Out Of My Head
6. Big Shot
9. Be The One
12. When the Stars Go Out
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