On first listen, ‘Alien Anthem’ might seem horrifically misjudged – there’s a 45 second drums’n’detuned guitar solo in the middle of it, which sounds a bit like a microwave breaking down.
But scratch under the surface, and it’s a brilliantly caustic tale of ex-boyfriends and boozy breakdowns from Melbourne-based Gabriella Cohen and her guitarist Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon. It’s bittersweet and bitchy in delivery, but it’s sharp too. The lyric, “My love came quickly, was he there at all?” might just be the funniest putdown of the year thus far, while the song’s dysfunctional journey – a Jack White riff here, some Destiny’s Child backing vox there – adds to its appeal the more you listen. Being drawn in is all a part of the process with Cohen’s music.
“You know when songs just come to you?” she told me about the track. “Some higher conscious just pours down, and bam! You have a song. Well, ‘Alien Anthem’ was written like that. I was mucking around with drop D tuning on guitar and the melody and words just arrived instantaneously. It was the beginning of 2015, I was living right next door to my former partner and I was going a bit mad. You can tell by the chorus that I really needed to relinquish my bitter self.”
‘Alien Anthem’ is taken from Cohen’s Full Closure And No Details, to be released on March 4. Check out more on Gabriella in our BigSound festival report.