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It was only a week or two ago that Mr. Kevin Parker claimed that Australia had no psych scene; a bold statement that was (a) a little confusing (b) slightly contradictory (what kind of band do you play in Kevin?) and (c) in our opinion just plain wrong. From the interview, it seemed that Parker was just completely ignorant, and despite him spearheading Australia’s biggest psych-rock export in many, many years, he doesn’t really seem like the right person to ask about the inner-workings of Australia’s psychedelic machine.
The country is a whirlpool of great psych bands (thanks to a massive resurgence of the genre, arguably spurred on by Kevin Parker himself), from the kaleidoscopic lo-fi world of bands like Sunbeam Sound Machine, to bristling, Nuggets-inspired psych-garage like The Pinheads. Now there is another to add to that ever-growing list. They’re called The Good Sports.
Taking all the best elements from the 60s, Peak Performance is a magnificent, brawling melange of scattering vocals, pretty melodies, fuzzy riffs and twangy guitars.
The band are a four-piece hailing from East Brisbane, and Peak Performance is their debut record. Taking cue from late-60s garage twang, their tunes are dedicatedly guitar-driven, utilising old Japanese guitars to authenticate their chosen sounds.
The album is bristling with the energy of the era, a sort of spastic excitement to take a new sound and run with it. But of course this isn’t a new sound. The 60s have popped up in many different disguises over the past quarter of a century, from New Wave to Chill Wave, only to recede, reform and poke its head out once more. The Good Sports know this.
Peak Performance is a wonderful pastiche of 60s sonics, born again in the modern age. There are elements of Ty Segall in the wailing, scattering vocals, the belting drums and shredding guitars. All Day Today is a roaring start to the album, with sharp, modulated guitars bending around fat fuzzy riffs. The album was produced by the band. They have brilliantly captured the tape-warmth of 60s recording techniques.
Everything is pretty lo-fi, but not in that ugly, stale sort of way. Breathing Underwater feels exactly like its name implies; warm and floaty. The vocals are aloof, and the oscillating guitars work their way through your ears and into your brain, where they whirl in erratic, spacious patterns.
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The band do a brilliant job of working pop songs into random, psychedelic frameworks. Hooks pop up everywhere, but they are not so alluring as the instrumentation. On Getting To Work On Time, the vocals take the backseat. With warm drums front and centre, flickering and floating guitars are allowed the space to do their thing either side. There are moments of playfulness on Peak Performance that we saw The Flaming Lips develop in their later years: it’s colourful, interesting pop music.
It’s Okay With Me has a crisp country edge that reminds me a little of The Clean. It’s a pretty ballad that has been stuffed in to a firework and shot off into the stratosphere, spitting sparks and disintegrating to smoke. Start Again Again follows a similar path, winding through strummed rhythms, thin guitars and sunny harmonies before ending with the rattle of a tambourine. Most songs barely break the three-minute mark, and rarely do they need to. Each track is a colourful psych pop nugget, saying enough in their density of kaleidoscopic production and brilliant songwriting that they never need to drag on.
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