SWEET TEENS – TERMINAL GROUSE
Do you like a good yarn, told well? Yeah? Well then, Terminal Grouse might just be up your alley. The album is a collective of stories told from the point of view of disaffected youth, and captures well the outlook of an underclass that could be found roaming listlessly around any Australian town or city. But if you’re from Melbourne in particular, then you’ll soon cotton on to the fact that Sweet Teens are too. A few references in their latest help give a sense of the feel of that city, or at least how it feels for those unwilling to leap from the cusp of adulthood into a buttoned-up, straight and narrow, suburban ideal sort of lifestyle.
Sweet Teens could perhaps be described as purveyors of working man’s punk rock: music that is accessible to the average punter, that is down to earth, and that is sung by someone who sounds like he could be a mate of yours; but there’s a noticeably rebellious tinge to it, an unwillingness to conform to the mainstream is captured in the coarse, slightly-frayed edges of the stories being told. Sometimes the album is contemplative and measured, more often it’s the fired-up, indignant, angry shouting out of youth uncertain of its place in the world, but certain that authority isn’t going to be the one to dictate what that place will be.
But in whatever yelling there is, it’s not just unfocussed, purposeless shouting for the sake of shouting, it’s a group with some stories to tell, and the stones to push for those stories to be heard. It wants you to know there are stories that are playing out in spaces outside the middle-class mainstream—stories playing out on the streets, in skate parks, at housing commission block flats and in working class pubs. It’s a call for youth to grab some cheap piss, sit around together in spaces like these and swap their stories.
In fact, this is an album that is as much about the stories as it is about the music; the measured guitar is sweetly mellowing and the occasionally-frenetic drumming provides some spine, but they act almost unobtrusively, hanging out in the background and making sure the stage is well embellished but that the stories are at the centre of it.
That’s not to say the music won’t grip you too; a lonelier drug than heroin is a standout track that introduces a welcome change of pace in kicking off with a bit of atmosphere, a bit of distortion, and even a hint of funk. All in doors is a well-paced, reflective piece, and is another highlight, but for me Sweet Teens saved their best until last. the Rodney is not typical of the rest of the album, but what a song, and what a great finish! The song leapt off the simple and effective story-telling punk rock platform that the rest of the album had been loitering on, and headed for the other side of the tracks. It both evinced Sweet Teens’ willingness and ability to head off in a new direction, and captured the swerving, changeable focus of bored youth. It’s an absorbing, sing-along-to anthem with some violin and even a few piano keys thrown in, and the sort of song that all your mates—pissed and back at your place after a night on it—would stand to attention for, each chanting earnestly along to and trying not to be the one to shed a tear at some memory evoked by its melancholy.
If you like a bit of story with your music, and you like that music to have a punkish rebellion about it, then this album is well worth a listen.
Rating: 23/28 Days