If you’ve released ten albums, you’re either doing something right or you’ve deluded yourself into thinking you are. In You Am I’s case it’s the former, with all but their debut charting top twenty in Australia, three of them at number one. The legendary Sydney rockers have now stretched their recording history from 1993 to 2015, some twenty-two years, and have rarely wavered. Even Convicts, which Tim Rogers isn’t proud of is an enjoyable listen at times.
So it’s no surprise there’s plenty to like about their latest offering Porridge and Hotsauce. However, there’s also plenty to remain indifferent to. It’s disappointing but not entirely surprising. When a band has been around this long it’s inevitable that they start to become complacent and lose a little of their edge. You Am I have set some lofty standards over the years and if you’re talking about You Am I at their best, this is not the album you’ll be talking about.
You Am I have struck upon the perfect title, for while this album contains some the hard-hitting sting of their early work, it’s often surrounded by a softer, less impressionable edge.
Although it’s reassuring to hear Rogers sing about the relatively good space he finds himself in now after some years of personal issues, the album certainly sounds tame and tired at various points. The tension of their early work is not apparent. Porridge and Hotsauce is missing the poignant clout of Heavy Heart, it’s lacking the pure, raw desperate rock of Berlin Chair, it’s without the knockabout fun of Rumble and Mr Milk.
In fairness, one can’t expect Rogers to write another Berlin Chair and it’s unreasonable to expect a band to keep peaking twenty years into their career. If this was their first album we would be very impressed, it’s just that we’ve become so accustomed to how good they are.
With all that in mind, this is certainly not a bad album. These men are good at what they do and they know how to play to their strengths, and this is a perfectly fine rock album to listen to. Opener Good Advices is a typically strong You Am I offering, showcasing everything they’re known for, and for long-time fans it will be a nice, familiar way to settle into the album.
It’s a record that does rumble along, with only one track surpassing the three-minute mark. No, A Minor Blue hits an early high; it’s just a really nicely done rock song that screams You Am I. However, after this the album dives into a troubling lull where the rock songs become run-of-the-mill. With Two Hands they try something quite different and it sounds unlike anything they’ve ever released. A horn section takes its place on the track, but along with the percussion and Rogers voice it sounds like a jazzed up country song. While it’s an interesting experiment it doesn’t particularly fit in with the rest of the album.
Thankfully the record doesn’t fizzle out into oblivion, it picks up again admirably in the middle/end with the tremendously catchy Beehive, the gritty Buzz The Boss, and the quick-fire staccato She Said Goodbye. These three songs operating back to back really bring the record back to life after the strong opening.
Ultimately, if you’re an avid listener of You Am I you won’t find a song here that hasn’t been done better on their previous albums but all the same it’s always nice to get a new album from a professional rock band that know their craft. Despite being slightly confined Porridge And Hotsauce is perfectly adequate.