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Polaroids Of Androids

Record Reviews

10.0

The Smith Street Band
Sunshine & Technology

Upon first listen, the intention of Young Drunk could easily be interpreted as being explicitly straight-forward. It's a song indebted to a celebratory, carefree past. Let's get as pissed-as-a-wino like we did when we were nineteen, scull goon bags as they lazily swing from clothing lines, cart our cases of beer from house party to house party in a stolen shopping trolley etc etc. Nostalgic, but more focused on reliving, than remembering. Temporarily transporting our minds to an era when hazily drifting through the weekend, locked in a permanent state of intoxication was familiar rather than regrettable. It's a beautiful notion in itself, more-so when partnered with the triumphant chorus chant that echoes this moment-seizing hunger, perfect for a live environment and the inevitable beer spilling pandemonium it would cause.

A few more listens and the same song takes on a deeper sense of self-analysis and escapism. The previously dominate chorus now just washes over, individual observations about searching for that former life and the joys of a now-foreign existence begin to dominate. "All the red brick fences look the same". Whilst viewed as a boring, soulless shell with your younger eyes, your childhood suburban neighbourhood now, from your mildly inebriated viewpoint, just seems perfectly uncomplicated. This notion is extended further, back to your current existence and the perfect little snippets of simplicity you now find solace in. Many more man hours spent punching the air along to every word and the (in hindsight, fairly obvious) underlying basis of the song finally sticks. Young Drunk is the tale of a funeral, the inevitable introspective aftermath and the amplification of the event into a life-altering moment of greater significance. Lost in thoughts of pointlessness and self-worth, songwriter Wil Wagner darts back-and-forth between the present and the past, glueing snippets of life together as he unloads a stream of associated feelings.

This adjustable level of personal engagement is the foundation of Wagner's magnificent songwriting style. Throughout Sunshine & Technology he discharges emotions and ideas in an almost therapeutic manner, yet primarily bestows the responsibility of interpretation on the listener themselves. I Can't Feel My Face is a tale of regrettable life decisions, vulnerability or love — dependent on which particular lyric resonates most with you. Or it's simply a catchy anthem of defiance and inebriated pride. Similarly, the borderline cheesy, almost tongue-in-cheek, sing-a-long hook of Why I Can't Draw sits alongside a patchwork of personal reflections, including jesting lines of mortality ("we sat around the table drinking, hoping no one would ever die"), casually delivered political activism ("let's have a rally, let's start a revolution") and personalised slices of wisdom ("I don't understand things unless I find music in them"). With each separate, isolated idea holding it's own measure of significance with the listener.

While the album is primarily empowered by Wagner's ability to collate vivid everyday imagery and interweave these scenes with his own concisely articulated thoughts, his immediately recognisable Australian accent pockets it into a more personalised space, sounding akin to sharing a dark corner of your local with Robbo as he unloads a lifetime of hardships and the occasional celebratory yelp of joy (he just won the un-boxed Dapto trifecta). This unashamed colloquialism attaches a genuine sense of honesty to every memorable sentence. Essential as, given the tone, every line hinders on it's level of believability. Yet, it's not significant whether or not we share the songwriter's actual beliefs (for one, I don't think my zero interest offset account is "fucking useless"). It only matters that Wagner himself stands behind every word and, given the consistently passionate delivery, it's hardly a point of debate.

But Sunshine & Technology goes even further than that, masterfully partnering this sincerity and conviction with easily accessible pop elements and a vibrant punk spontaneity. Casually discarding tomorrow, yet still painfully reminiscing over every regrettable detail of last night, this is a record that perfectly oscillates between shirts-off jubilation and internal soul-searching. And this natural, unforced sense of balance is not only the album's most endearing quality, it's also the main reason it's such an endlessly enthralling (fucking) masterpiece.

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Record Reviews
The Smith Street Band

 

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Comments

42069666

these guys are self-righteous donghuffers with some of the most yawningly formulaic songs i've heard. QUIET-LOUD-SHOUT-ABOUT-DRINKIN-SOME-MORE-QUIET-LOUD. pongo.

6 years ago

nubeanprime

God, whoever this Jonny character is has awful taste. This band is fucking BORING and pretentious. You need to get out more...there is a world of music out there that doesn't sound like anti-dandruff shampoo. And christsake get some different reviewers, a bit of variety couldn't hurt.

6 years ago

natahlias

I'd just like to say a big GET F**KED to the two negative smart arses that posted those shitty comments. Firstly Jonny summed 'Sunshine and Technology' fabulously. He nailed it. Wagner's lyrics are nothing that you would compare to say Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath etc. It's more about the nostalgic feels you get and the way his lyrics are what feelings sound like. Maybe you didn't grow up how every Smith Street Band fan did and don't understand the meanings behind the 'drinking' etc. So instead of mocking a sweet band please get a life dudes...

5 years ago

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