Chances are if you’ve grown up in Australia over the last 25 years you know at least one Frenzal Rhomb song. It might have offended you, it might have made you laugh or you may have thought it was the most awesome minute and a half of your life (excepting that night after the school social in year 11). Above all else, considering a myriad of health problems, successful outside endeavors and the slow demise of the Australian live music scene, they are to be applauded for the fact that they have reached album number nine and they still kick ass.
The new record is “Hi-Vis, High Tea”, a collection of 20 songs that clocks in at around the half an hour mark. (2 songs sneak past 3 minutes). Recorded by the god-like Bill Stevenson (The Descendants) and Jason Livermore at the legendary Blasting Room, they’re almost single handedly keeping Australian punk rock alive.
From the first track, a 30 second banger about a “classic pervert”, this album is another Frenzal Rhomb album in all it’s glory. Short and right to the point, but with just the right amount of melodic sensibility to distinguish between tracks. The guys have always found their sweet spot combining honest stories about life in the fast lane with sometimes biting social and political commentary, and a generous dose of humor and satire thrown in to keep things light. In short, Frenzal Rhomb are everything it is to be Australian, without the Akubra hats or Southern Cross Tattoos (as far as I know).
By now, you’ve probably heard the first single “Cunt Act” and were either stoked or bitterly disappointed that it sounds like most other Frenzal songs you’ve heard…. For those who haven’t, Cunt Act is a callout to all the mean spirited stuff that you see every day in the street, on the news, from your friends and is another perfect example of everything that this band are about.
Other highlights include “Ray Ahn is my spirit animal”, a track giving the nod to the legendary Hard-Ons and “I’m shelving stacks (as I’m stacking shelves)” a sub 2 minute gem about working a supermarket shift whilst under the influence of party drugs, as well as the instantly relatable “School Reunion”. Slower tracks like “Ex-Pat”, “Messed Up ,“The Black Prince” and the brooding “Food Court” add a bit of complexity to the sound and give a chance for the often under-rated vocal harmonies to be heard, as well as giving the guys a chance to do something a bit different, while still being our beloved Frenzal.
Let’s face it. Frenzal aren’t about to change their sound too much…. They write albums so they have new songs to play at uni-bars and ski resorts nation wide and that’s exactly where you will have your most memorable Frenzal experiences. I hate to think of a time when the Australian music landscape didn’t include Frenzal Rhomb. Our parents can talk all they want about seeing AC/DC or INXS at the local bar… but if they’ve never picked up a Frenzal Rhomb album/shirt combo, drank 10 beers and lost their mind (and voice) at a sweaty, packed out punk rock show, they have no idea what they’re missing out on.
With “Hi-Vis, High Tea”, Frenzal Rhomb aren’t likely to win over anyone who doesn’t already love them but they are still here….. and thank god for that. They’re Australian heroes and you should totally listen to this album, buy a ticket and see them while they’re still around, kicking ass.