It’s an understatement to say Private Function don’t take themselves too seriously. In fact, the Melbourne six-piece savvily split the difference between Cosmic Psychos-style yobbo punk tropes and more current piss-take party rockers. Their songs play it short and dumb, sporting spontaneous bubblegum choruses that demand you shout along – no matter how dodgy the sentiment.
That’s why they’re able to pull off something like 2017’s ‘I Wish Australia Had Its Guns Again’, or this album’s prankish Coldplay cover. (More on that in a bit.) Those moments get a huge reaction live, and they’re a whole lot of fun to burn through on record, too. It helps that Private Function songs are usually equal parts compact and explosive: on this third studio album, it takes five tracks for the band to finally crack the two-minute mark. It also helps to have a mouthpiece as animated and versatile as Chris Penney, who can freely jump between singing styles to suit each song’s disparate touchstones.
On ‘370HSSV 0773H’, the title of which spells out a rude greeting upside-down, Private Function cherry-pick liberally from the music they grew up loving. ‘Jusavinageez’ applies Dead Kennedys-esque charisma to classic ocker slang, while ‘General Mr. Meaner’ swerves into Cheap Trick-worthy power pop and ‘I Dunno What I’m Doing Anymore’ sees Penney flash an exaggerated growl over guitar riffs that hark back to the earliest days of rock’n’roll. Most fascinating of all is the robust centrepiece ‘Seize & Destroy’, which channels ’80s metal and hardcore alike alongside a ravaged vocal turn that nods to Motörhead. In direct contrast to the band’s get-in-get-out approach on much of the album, it even slows down in the middle before diving into a delirious, fret-blasted solo.
For the most part, these are shrapnel-like anthems that quickly careen off in unexpected directions. Yet even the songs that last less than a hundred seconds pack some memorable flourishes, like the tearaway solo on lead single ‘I’m This Far Away (From Being the Worst Person You’ve Ever Met)’, the fleeting hair-metal licks of ‘One Headed Dog’, and the smirking line “I don’t like violence / I love it” on ‘Good Fight, Good Night’.
Then there’s the riotous version of Coldplay’s breakthrough 2000 hit ‘Yellow’, which doesn’t so much upend the original as giddily accelerate it and show off the clean melodic punch of Penney’s voice. The source material doesn’t sit nearly as close to the band’s wheelhouse as Sweet’s ‘Fox on the Run’ – which they covered in 2017 – but that’s what makes it such an affable ambush. The same goes for the sweetly delivered snideness of ‘I Just Met The Biggest C**t In The World (It Is You)’, the 37-second closer sung by bassist Milla Holland.
Three albums in, Private Function are having the time of their lives occupying this punchy niche of impulsive, short-attention-span punk. Between making the cover art of this album a scratch-off contest rewarding one lucky fan and their launch of what they’re touting as “the world’s first piss-filled vinyl record”, there’s the sense that they double down on every passing whim. But when the results are this consistently enjoyable, that method seems like a winning one.
- Release date: March 31
- Record label: Still on Top