The traditional view is that punk is a dying art form, slowly either disappearing up its own arse trying to achieve commercial validity, or playing in increasingly small venues and labelling themselves as ‘underground’.
But from the nether regions of the globe, Sydney’s HELLIONS have released a complete ‘beaut’ of an album in the shape of ‘Indian Summer’: varied, angst-ridden and with real talent behind the angry façade.
Second track on the album ‘Nottingham’ is quite simply a sublime example of what pop punk could have been.
But make no mistake – these guys are not here to play with conventions. As you marvel at ‘Nottingham’ you’re then thrown headfirst into ‘Creasy’ Parts One and Two, which merge hardcore sensibilities with almost orchestral elements and real power when it hits the ground with a slam, before Part Two offers some arrangements that The Clash would have been proud of.
Damn – this is what punk could have evolved into with a fair wind and no sneering cynics at hand.
When ‘Ghoul’ nails you to the ground with its hardcore attitude and incessant riffing you realise that this Antipodean trio may have snagged some magic formula – melding the more modern ‘core’ with the sound of English Dogs and early SLF.
However, the album is not without flaws. The one-minute slam of ‘Lie’ sounds forced, which is in stark contrast to the title track, with its piano led opening, strings and a sense of tension leading into ‘Comedy of Errors’ a real crossover between punk, hardcore and post-punk.
The vocals of Dre Fairve carry each song; not for him the forced melodies of Fall Out Boy or MCR. Instead he keeps true to the punk ethic of raging into the mic, while preserving just enough melody to make tracks work.
The commitment to this album is something that resonates throughout the band.
“Indian Summer’ represents everything we stand for as individuals. There are parts on the record that are incredibly personal and parts that are relatable to not only the members of the band, but our fans, friends, families and well, anyone really,” said drummer Anthony Caruso. “This is the first time we have ever felt truly content with where we at musically, which is exciting and invigorating for everyone. It’s honest, confronting and true to ourselves. Hellions isn’t just a band, it’s a way of life and Indian Summer is our way of showing people who we are. It’s for everyone.”
There is also a series of guest arts such as JJ Peters and Real Bad from Deez Nuts and Triple J.
The last two tracks on the album ‘Mea Culpa’ and ‘23’ are superb examples of what pop punk could have been before the corporate bean counters got a hold of it
Instead, Hellions have turned it on its head, creating a punk pop hybrid that is simply glorious; the guitar melodies on album closer ‘23’ leave you wanting more.
Maybe it is because the Aussies have been isolated from the trends and fashionistas who latched on to the wave of mediocre pop punk they have managed to produce an album that has hidden depth, great song writing and a fuck you attitude to conventions. We know this is going to be on our playlists for some time!
Review: Jonny Traynor