A. Swayze & the Ghosts find themselves in a cruel position, releasing an album destined for the live setting amid the current pandemic. They’re not alone. With messy back-room punk shows off the cards for the foreseeable, the Aussie outfit attempt have to settle for conjuring these sorely missed shows by way of chaotic riffs and energetic garage rock on this record.
Since their self-titled debut EP in 2017, singles like ‘Suddenly’ have stuck to a blueprint which consistently brought out comparisons to some great names over the years. Think the nostalgic beach rock of The Black Tambourines or the party-starting antics of The Black Lips.
Frontman Swayze has a lot to get off his mind throughout the release. The first two tracks lay down a marker of his intentions to use this platform as a megaphone; co-written with his wife Olivia, ‘It’s Not Alright’ deals with inequality using her own experiences of harassment, a perspective offering up a more potent viewpoint. This is driven home with jagged guitar lines and lively layered vocals; “she don’t wanna / she don’t wanna / it’s too late”.
The sense of gusto doesn’t drop as ‘Suddenly’ rolls in with jabbing guitars and hectic – “I am a girl and I love the world,” he snarls. While the musicality offers nothing precisely original – there’s a buoyancy behind every menacing guitar line or shouted vocal – it’s back-to-basics fun.
‘Connect to Consume’ comes as another topical moment as they shout about “Facebook / Insta / Snapchat / Tumblr / YouTube”, highlighting the platforms that provide a source of anxieties to many. There’s little to no analysis, but perhaps that’s the point; the energy and spirit remains infectious regardless. So much so, it bagged a coveted place on the recent reissue of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as solid kick-flipping material.
‘Marigold’ punches with a more depthful and guttural punk sound, owing to some of the more traditional greats of the genre. ‘Mess Of Me’ drags back into a more jovial territory bringing to mind some of The Clash’s brighter tracks. The plethora of mundane frustrations in life remain palpable (“Sunday is the day to pay rent / I’ve not got fuck all to send / bank is calling up on the phone / I need to pay back the loan”). Such themes of struggle present themselves in sharp lyrics throughout the album, snapping you back from the fun and brash musicality.
Swayze makes it all too clear throughout this album that he’s intent on attacking serious matters in life, whether big or small. Perhaps most importantly, he’s managed to morph his frustrations of the world into engaging and frantic material that packs serious spirit. Yet another album we’ll have to wait to see live.
- Release date: September 18
- Record label: Sunset Pig Records / Ivy League Records