Body Type – ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’ review: a thrilling, self-possessed debut

The Sydney post-punk band’s first album is a riveting exercise in contrast and connection

Body Type’s debut album should have come out two years ago, right behind a pair of buzz-generating EPs. But of course the pandemic intervened, dividing the Sydney quartet by geography and scuttling tour plans. That’s a common enough tale, but there’s nothing common about this album: It’s a self-possessed statement of intent and one of the best Australian debut albums in recent memory.

Everything appealing about those early EPs is refined on ‘Everything Is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising’, from sudden tempo shifts and the conversational push and pull of guitars to alternating lead singers and biting, feminist lyrical commentary awaiting. A sharply honed post-punk unit that’s often more reflective of British forebears like Electrelane and The Long Blondes than specific Australian touchstones, Body Type balance thrilling abrasion and propulsion with layered melodicism and wonky internal twists and turns.

Body Type’s urgency on this record might come down to the fact that it was recorded in just eight days, with Party Dozen’s spontaneity-friendly Jonathan Boulet at the helm. But it’s also the rotating cast of vocalist and songwriters that keeps the listener somewhat unbalanced from song to song, always anticipating a dramatic scene change. Guitarists Sophie McComish and Annabel Blackman and bassist Georgia Wilkinson-Derums all contribute on that front, with drummer Cecil Coleman holding the fort with range and finesse.

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Blackman opens the album with ‘A Line’, whose chewy bass line and deadpan repeated vocals evoke current UK bands like Dry Cleaning and Wet Leg (though the song predates the latter’s debut). Inspired by a visualisation technique designed to bypass obsessive thinking, it re-introduces the rippling exchanges between all four players. Wilkinson-Derums’ punkier ‘The Brood’ takes a surprisingly bouncy approach to its David Cronenberg-inspired vision of a woman’s anger materialising as violence.

Equally acidic is McComish’s account of the music industry’s condescending treatment toward women on ‘The Charm’. Against back-and-forth guitars worthy of Sleater-Kinney, she turns an unwelcome piece of advice into a snarky rebuttal, drawing out the chorus refrain “I’ve got charm” with obvious relish.

From there, the album continues to hold attention across no shortage of contrasts. It’s rare for a band so relatively new to command so much control across those stark shifts, often within a single song. Case in point: after a bright and jangly start, ‘Futurism’ grows eerily slow before accelerating to exit with a palpable head rush. Meanwhile, Blackman’s poem-based interlude ‘Hot Plastic Punishment’ earns a frenetic answer in Wilkinson-Derums’ gnashing anthem ‘Buoyancy’, speaking to how naturally the band members’ creativity feeds each other.

The record finishes with another spiky array of approaches, including the more danceable but no less withering ‘Flight Path’, about an encounter with someone who deemed #MeToo unfair to men. Named after Eve Babitz’s influential 1979 novel, ‘Sex & Rage’ applies lurching, Pavement-esque hooks to lyrics about appreciating life and art in the moment. It fits in neatly with the following ‘An Animal’, a darker entry that gradually builds portent via overlapping vocals from McComish and Wilkinson-Derums.

It’s the equal showcasing of these distinctive singers and personalities within one band that makes this debut album so engaging. Maintaining an intuitive bond throughout so many swerves and feints, Body Type are locked into a formidable connection indeed.

Details

  • Release date: Poison City
  • Record label: May 20
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