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After one quick listen through Born Lion’s debut album Final Words I knew I was unequipped to properly review it. The essence of rock’n’roll was still inside me but its physical manifestation had gotten weak with underexposure. I had always respected Born Lion for who they were as a band and what they were doing but I never actually bothered to give them much time. It felt like it was stuff I would have liked back in the day, but have moved on from.
That being said I was still hugely proud that someone was making that music! That is why the only person I could realistically consider to help me with this review would be 16 year old Dustin. 2005 Dustin. And I use the words “realistically” quite incorrectly – the balding obscenely wealthy overlord at Happy has us “contributors” writing around the clock for no pay (Please see Fig A.) and any requests for further assistance in ways of extra design help or time machine devices to assist my gimmicky reviews are normally met with cruel and unusual punishments (Please see Fig B). Regardless I’ve managed to go behind scaly horned backs of the powers that be and enlist the help of an inner west esoteric to make contact with me from 10 years ago and shed some insight on this record.
When in doubt, time travel. Using some wibbly wobbly, timey wimey nonsense, we sought put an expert opinion on the debut Born Lion LP Final Words.
Old Dustin: Ok man, this might be a bit of a trip for you but I need your help with something.
Young Dustin: What do you want? I was practicing my scales.
Old Dustin: Ha, yeah you can put that shit away. You’re never going to be Yngwie Malmsteen. Jesus, what are you wearing? Flares? Look at your hair! Fucking sort it out mate.
Young Dustin: Dude, seriously. Stop being so random. What do you want? Is this some kind of regressive therapy session you’re undertaking in an expensive rehab clinic paid for by Sony after 6 years of substance abuse and failed intensely sexual relationships that go hand in hand with being the worlds’ most successful musician?
Old Dustin: ….. Ahhh well…
Young Dustin: But we were going to be famous?
Old Dustin: Well I do write for a blog…?
Young Dustin: So you’re a famous music journalist?
OD: Look shit head. No one makes rock music anymore. You sent me down the wrong path! It’s 2015, the guitar is essentially the male nipple of the musical world; everyone has them but they’re of fuck all use to anybody. Everything is done on computers.
YD: You’re kidding me. Don’t tell me you just came back here to shit on my dreams. What do you want?
OD: Go listen to this album, I need your help in reviewing it. I keep telling my editor that I’m not the right person to review it but he can get violent when you try and talk back
YD: Sure. Can you burn me a copy?
OD: What a loser.
2 hours later
OD: How’d you go?
YD: What the fuck man. Since when did post-hardcore become so fucking bogan?
OD: I know it is a bit like that isn’t it?
YD: Sounds like “The Bled from Bundy”
OD: Or “At The Blacktown Drive In”
YD: Ha, or “Thursday; Centrelink Reporting Day”
OD: “Alexisonfire Gonna-Claim-Insurance-Money”
YD: “Blink-182 in a 60 Zone”
OD: Ok that one didn’t really work. Look, this isn’t a post-hardcore record. I don’t even think it’s a post-pop-punk or post-post-hardcore-cum-pub-rock record. It’s just an Aussie punk record.
OD: Yeah it’s all in there but this has evolved on its own and has come from an incredibly non punk rock place.
YD: What do you mean?
OD: Shit man it’ll take a while to bring you up to speed but essentially there hasn’t been much like this for a while in Australia. Prog rock will become an underground staple for nerds and weirdos, Aussie Hardcore is about to go gangbusters world-wide for teenagers with bad haircuts and in the indie world there is a 5 year period where you can only get popular if you name your band after some kind of forest animal.
YD: The Fuck?
OD: Yeah. Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Deerhunter. They were all amazing but in a kind of sexless “let’s go watch a foreign film and after we can go sit on a rooftop and paint watercolours” kind of way.
YD: Count me the fuck out that sounds lame as shit.
OD: Shut up, liking those bands will get you laid.
YD: But rock music prevails right?
OD: Not really. Only now are people discovering what a guitar is actually for. I mean bands like Born Lion have been giving it a red hot go for ages but none of them have actually been that good.
YD: So this album must be pretty refreshing then yeah?
OD: Well yeah it totally is. I mean its early days yet but the band has been going from strength to strength and this is a pretty solid debut release.
YD: It’s no Begins Here.
OD: WTF man that doesn’t even come out until next year. Stop fucking around here, I’m on thin ice enough as it is with the guys at Happy. The name is a deliberately ironic, their offices are a haven for physical and psychological abuse.
YD: These people sound pretty horrible.
OD: They’re not, they treat you right. It’s not them. It’s me. I just… I just need to work harder.
YD: Man that sounds like Stockholm Syndrome hey? Sounds like you “Just got to break the curse, god damn just sing the words…”
OD: “Woahhh oh ohh Ohhhhh”
YD: It’s a great start to the album. 20 Seconds in and they’re already coaxing participation. They engage you straight from the off. “Good Dogs Play Dead” is solid and heavy as well. Both tracks give the album time to breathe with drum and bass only verses and huge guitars on the chorus. Warms you up for “Sucker for Punishment” which sounds like a B-Side to The Blood Brothers Crimes minus the implied substance abuse and warped childhood.
OD: I knew you’d be good at this!
YD: Sonically it’s pretty brutal. Throughout the record the chords are huge, the lead lines are light and melodic and the rhythm section is mean! What’s up with D for Danger though. All sense of continuity of tone go out the window with that one.
OD: Oh that I think was recorded in different sessions to everything else. It was released as a single pretty early.
YD: They released it at a single? Why? It’s one of my least favourite tracks on the record. They should have released Good Times Jimmy.
OD: LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLLL!
YD: Dude what a fucking tune! The album kind of drifts off from there though. It feel kind of samey from there on out. It works but it just feels like they’ve done what they’d set out to achieve by that point and it was just more of the same. Even their attempt of a sonic lull in Violent Soul just sounds like they blew a tube and picked up some acoustics lying around. Played it the same, just using acoustics. And it kinda sucks.
OD: Too Cool to Party has a pretty cool message. It’s a pretty punk rock song railing on, what I’ve gathered to be, EDM fuckheads or just ignorant people in general.
YD: … What’s EDM…?
OD: Its what’ll kill your chances of a music career. That’s all you need to know.
YD: Right. Yeah well I suppose Too Cool to Party kind of works in a 2015 context but it seems a little thematically weak.
OD: Thematically? Fuck – I forgot how much of a wanker I was back then. You still read poetry thinking it’ll get you girls. It won’t man. Go to the gym.
YD: No seriously, it’s a heavy album but it’s not really dealing with anything heavy. It’s feels like it’s just riffs been tragically linked together with some rock clichés.
OD: His voice works though?
YD: Yeah, his voice has a good vibe to it. As I said it felt like they were kind of running out of ideas towards the end there. Like I’m not sitting here wanting more because I’d just get more of the same. I’d prefer to just listen to what I have on repeat until mum tells me it’s time for dinner.
OD: None of the Above might not sound that important to you now but you should re-listen to it. Those lyrics are good to keep in mind for the next 10 years.
YD: What? “All your high hopes and expectations/Man you gotta keep them low”? Fucks sake man…
OD: Don’t change a thing though. I don’t want you fucking around with the course of my life. Last thing I want is to wake up playing in Sheppard or something.
YD: What’s Sheppard?
OD: It’s the Australian Hanson with the make-up gun set to “Whore”. Look we got to rap this up. I’m at a psychic on King St and she’s trying to charge me for another hour. We sound like a Monty Python sketch right now, “No it was never 5 minutes!” What are your final words on it man?
YD: It’s a good rock’n’roll record. It’s not At The Drive In, although nothing will ever be, but for something local it’s heavy, energetic and fucking fun.
OD: And man you would not believe how refreshing that is right now. All this post-hardcore shit we’ve been spurting is only relevant to us, we lived it/living it, for most of the listeners out there it’s not a part of their story. For them this might be brand new and blow their minds hearing this for the first time.
YD: Exactly. Quickly before I go, I thought of one more bogan punk band name!
OD: Fuck, quickly. It better be good!
YD: “Taking Back Sunday: The Custody Battle”
OD: … It wasn’t.
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