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“To The Vacant Smiles,
Where the hell have you been all my life?”
That’s what you’ll think once you’ve listened to their brand spanking new album You’re Not Really Here. Not only does this album have the surf-rock jams for you to blast on those end-of-
summer road trips, but it also has a killer touch of blues that will hit you in the feels and a slather of post-punk that’ll take you back to the 90s.
Garage rock with a twist, The Vacant Smiles prove that first single Lemmings was no accident. You’re Not Really Here sees the boys hit it over the boundary.
There is a slight garage feel to it too that is similar to the likes of Chicago’s Harlem and London’s Palma Violets. The garage vibes make a lot of sense considering the band records at the vocalist and guitarist, James Lynch’s house in Melbourne. Although recording at home can be tough (but comfy), the payoff was totally worth it because the end product is a killer album that only gets better as you go. There is so much intricacy in each of the songs that it’s easy to hear how much time went into this work.
Imagine an artist standing amongst a bunch of different genres of music and taking their pick of the elements that they like from any of them. Sewing all the different elements into one is what The Vacant Smiles have done and the end product is pretty much seamless. Yes, the first single, Lemmings is a banger, but Mike TV and Drenched definitely hit the right spots.
Mike TV has a killer hook played on the guitar that dabbles in the blues a bit. The song has a lot of motion to it, and the rhythm and bass guitars and the drums keep it pushing forward like a punk song. This one calls for some head-banging (or, at least, some head-bobbing), or some out of control air guitar.
The perfect pair for this song is Drenched. Again, it’s got a fair bit of movement to it and is great to dance to – until you hit the dreamy breakdown. But it doesn’t mean you can’t sway like you’re seeing heaps of colours. The song also has some very honest lyrics – “I always feel like a mess, I always feel confused when everyone pretends to make sense“. There’s something in there for everyone, whether you’re the person who is a mess or the person trying to make sense, or the onlooker who’s thinking ‘wow, they’re all a mess.’, You’re sure to draw something from it.
On the flip side, The Vacant Smiles give some pretty nice ballads that ooze some freaky effects and the perfect twangy guitar. The middle section of the album is almost a hallucinogenic, and it will send you into a daze without a thought for the past.
The intricate poly-rhythms, the meticulous play of each part and the impeccable changes between sections of the songs are as smooth as newly shaven skin. A standout would be In Circles. The band start off a diaphanous ballad in a nice four beat feel. Then BAM! They successfully handle a time change into a five-four feel. It’s impressive – only the best can pull it off, like the Dave Brubeck Quartet in Take 5.
So, get onto Bandcamp, buy the album (a physical format is highly suggested), shove that into your CD player and let the good times roll.
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