“When I was a young boy, I thought I’d burn bright or burn up. Not both now. Not both now.”
From the very beginning of Drum, the second album from Melbourne four piece Gold Class, there is a desperation that is hard to escape.
It’s intoxicating and oppressive. Awe-inspiring and overwhelming. Every one of the ten tracks on this incredibly raw and vivid album is played at a frantic pace, both influenced and terrified by the primitive nature of life.
Awe-inspiring, overwhelming and over-wrought with anguish, Drum is a work of brilliance from Melbourne’s Gold Class.
There are shades of so many bands in Gold Class. Lead singer Adam Curley’s voice immediately reminds me of The Cult vocalist Ian Astbury only (thankfully) without that 80’s overproduced sheen.
The album’s mood equal parts The Cure’s Disintegration and Interpol’s Antics. And the focused outbursts of aggression shown throughout can easily be mistaken for something by fellow Melbournians The Drones, which is to be expected coming from an album produced by Drones frontman, Gareth Liddiard.
“I wanted Drum to bridge the gap between being onstage making this loud, rhythmic music and just being a person in the world,” said Curley about the album. “In life things are funny, you have crushes on people, things are stupid, you stay out all night. But you’re also part of what’s going on in the world and you have your own struggles. I wanted to piece that all together.”
Lyrically, Drum is a masterpiece. There is a beautiful symmetry and duality to Curley’s lyrics and the structure of every track.
Covering subjects like love, loss, turmoil and pain is nothing new to the world of music, but Curley manages to make the seemingly mundane everyday bullshit we go through poignant and interesting: The fear of reaching your potential; clinging to stereotypically bad lifestyles, running from yourself, coming to grips with your own identity and sense of place; the frustration and confusion that can come from leading double-lives.
These are things we all think about as we stand on a packed train on the way home from work or as we wait for the elevator to whisk us away to our office chairs. But, when told in the warbling wail of Curley’s painfully sincere voice, they seem different. More interesting. True.
The opening three tracks of Drum set the scene. If you’re not swept up by the spacious soundscapes of squalling guitars, the rhythmic pound of drums, gut-checking bass lines and howling vocals then I suspect this is not a journey that you’re going to enjoy.
While similar bands are busy hitting go on every guitar pedal they’ve got, bombarding the listener with a giant middle-finger shaped wall of noise, Gold Class have created an incredibly varied sound. It ebbs and flows. Rises and falls. Excites and calms. This variation of song writing not only makes sense, it’s a fucking pleasure to listen to.
“We found we operated best having space between instruments, with peaks and valleys in the dynamic,” guitarist Evan Purdey says when describing the song writing process. “We didn’t want to just pummel people with straight-out aggression in the set. We wanted more of an identity to each song.”
The album’s fourth track, Trouble Fun, is a tale of pent-up aggression and wanting what isn’t good for us. It serves as the perfect reprieve from the break-neck speed that the previous tracks are played at, allowing Curley to tell an introspected story of frustration and confronting self-awareness.
“Let free the riot / I’m a giddy ruin / Dumber than a night on the red balloons / Save your praying for some other punk / Am I in trouble?” It’s a sombre song about fighting against expectations and social norms, which sums up the entire record perfectly.
“I wanted it to be a record of defiance, a resistance to the idea of scrambling for a place at a table that wasn’t set for you,” Curley explains. “A sort of a love letter to anyone who not only can’t meet the standard, but doesn’t want to.”
The album’s title, Drum, is an ever-present reminder of the duality of the entire recording. It looms over all ten tracks, much like the moon of the cover art, offering order and structure. Something to march to. Something to work with.
Because of the driving force of Logan Gibson’s ever diligent, clean and precise drumming and the droning thrum of Jon Shub’s frantic yet measured bass lines, both Curley and Purdey are given incredibly strong foundations to work with, able to do what they will.
Bully is a story of the maddening confusion of striving to find a true sense of place; Thinking of Strangers one of finding self-importance and the merits of patience. Every song is raw and vulnerable. It’s post-punk at its most engaging and relatable.
The album is closed perfectly with Lux, a passionate war cry for those not content to sit and wait while the past shapes our future. “I’m through with wondering what will happen / I’ll still be up when the morning comes / I’m through with wondering what will happen / I no longer answer to the past.”
Drum is being released at an incredibly turbulent time in the Australian and international political landscapes. It’s a time where the foundation of our past has become unsettled, the present is shrouded in turmoil and our future has never been so unclear – something the album is deeply embroiled in.
“The politics and the personal experiences were sticky and came out all tangled up. I couldn’t detach them,” Admits Curley when speaking about writing the album. “
I can’t still, maybe because not enough time has passed since making the record, but maybe because those things simply can’t be detached. I suspect that last part is nearest to the truth.”