According to their press release, The Belligerents are “psyched” to announce the release of their debut album. And I can’t decide whether the pun is intentional or not; as even just a short foray into the band’s material will show you that “psyched” is where they mainly exist.
Science Fiction has been six years in the making for The Belligerents, as their first full length release. Entitled for a genre which inspired the band over the course of producing the record, the album hurtles through a cosmic trajectory, skirting rock, glam, disco and psych along the way.
A cosmic expedition into the future that simultaneously references the past, Science Fiction from The Belligerents imagines all possibilities and makes them reality.
Prior to the full release, singles Before, I Am and Caroline set the energetic, assertive tone for Science Fiction. The most recent and final single from the album, FLASH, is accompanied by “an epic tongue-in-cheek homage to 80’s sci-fi” in video form.
If, like me, you spent many a childhood Sunday night watching Flash Gordon and marvelling at the low budget fantasy, it’s hard to ignore the nod to these movies. Swirling synths and sonic lasers, along with anthemic refrains, are definitely reminiscent of Queen’s futuristic soundtrack.
The record opens on a similar note, with the immediate energy of Sorry To Say. Pounding drums and cosmic effects drop down to an echoed vocal, but launch into guitar-heavy choruses with an almost prog rock riff as the backdrop.
Turn Down The Band dials up with a riff that edges on blues territory, especially with the slow entry on the drums. However this quickly morphs into a sort of speed-psych; in fact, this ability to morph and warp style and genre somewhat characterises Science Fiction.
There’s something about the album which channels more than just 80’s sci-fi movies. The 1980’s were a rich decade for music; as rock warred with disco, reggae somehow snuggled up to punk, and spandex became the official sponsor of glam metal (I made that up… it was never official). A lot more happened on top of that, but the take away from this is that the mesmerising mix of Science Fiction seems to echo the musical smorgasbord that was the 80’s.
And if Queen could move from rock to disco to glam to pop, then so can The Belligerents. And they do, dropping dance floor friendly moments in Yes Man and Gemini. The latter in particular is a change of pace, dropping down to a cosmic choral but (in true Gemini style) showing a second side with a nod to trance and dance music towards the end.
The titular track from Science Fiction is one of the album’s highs, with infectious riffs, a glam edge and a falsetto yell. Thinking back to the original inspiration from tongue-in-cheek sci-fi, something in this track brings The Rocky Horror Picture Show to mind.
And there is also something refreshing about the story of a protagonist who can’t get science fiction out of their head; a sort of obsessive, mad doctor type, which sadly rarely crops up in contemporary music.
The record closes with Sleeping For Days, falling back into a more lounge-style of psychedelia. The Belligerents make good use of percussion to propel tracks forward throughout Science Fiction, and this final track pushes through in the same way. Behind lazy synths and dreamy vocals, there’s a liquid, techno-familiar beat which keeps us travelling on. A brief orchestral moment signs the record off – a final well-placed quirk from The Belligerents.
Science Fiction presents rock solid song writing, finessed with imaginative quirks and a melange of musical idiosyncrasies (including a recorder at one point, which just makes the album).
If the science fiction genre is about imagining all possibilities and refusing to shy away from your most outlandish ideas, then The Belligerents have definitely taken this inspiration on board. Their Science Fiction draws an attractive vision of the future to come.
Science Fiction is available to preorder now, and the album will be out September 8 via Sony.
They’re also heading on tour in support of the record. Catch them at the following:
Friday 20 October – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth | Tickets
Saturday 21 October – Jive, Adelaide | Tickets
Saturday 28 October – Sol Bar, Sunshine Coast | Tickets
*Thursday 2 November – UOW, Wollongong | Tickets
*Saturday 4 November – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney | Tickets
*Thursday 9 November – Transit Bar, Canberra | Tickets
*Friday 10 November – Howler, Melbourne | Tickets
*Saturday 11 November – The Zoo, Brisbane | Tickets
Thursday 28 December – Monday 1 January – Beyond the Valley Festival – Tickets
*with Bus Vipers