REVIEW: VIOLENT SOHO – HUNGRY GHOST

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Reviewed by Bec Hennessy

It’s not often I recommend believing the hype, but when it comes to Violent Soho, my advice is believe it.  ‘Hungry Ghost’, the soon to be released album from the Brisbane four piece – is good. Damn good.

While the album itself isn’t ground breaking or game changing, their sound still has one foot firmly planted back in 1992. But I don’t give a fuck. That’s why I love it. The vocals veering from slouching and slacker to brittle and raw, then all out hoarse punk rock, sprinkled with some sweet harmonies. The bass is laconic, pulsating – a constant heart beat, pumping blood to the pretty pop guitar melodies, before rushing to fuel their descent into dirty grunge distortion. Perfect.

Dope Calypso’ hits you with it all straight up, as a shy ‘lil guitar melody belies the coming crunch. Despair seeps in as the track croons ‘Now I’m gonna go outside, nothings gonna save us, nothing’s gonna save us”, before a jaunty and taunting ‘…all I say is all I know and all I know is what you make me…‘ becomes a capella harmonies at the close. The initial flavours of sunshine washed slacker rock, taste Pumpkins-eque. But the texture is grittier.

Covered in Chrome‘s vocals creak vulnerably as the rant simmers down to resignation. The track begins initially with only the jingling of guitar to keep it company, before the chorus of dirty ‘yeah’s‘ and beautiful ‘oohs‘ ring out over the riffs.

‘…all I ever wanted was a piece of myself, all I ever wanted was a 9 to 5. People hide what they feel inside so they cover it up ’til it’s grey and dry…’ – the track sighs, with the chorus and verse swinging between frustration and apathy.

Spooky vocals and a plaintive guitar echo beautifully on ‘Saramona Said‘, while lead single ‘In the Aisle‘ is –  I now realise –  the most upbeat track, even with its sneering of  ‘…why does everything you say sound hollow…?’ .

‘Ok Cathedral’ starts in the middle, making you feel like we’ve wandered in halfway through a chilled out psychedelic tinged jam inside their safe place. Our intrusion finally driven out by the barking of distortion.

‘Fur Eyes‘ is beautiful. Just beautiful. A gentleness in the vocals – like Corgan’s best work – bathed in a gorgeous tinkling guitar melody that gets muddied up just enough.  There’s some extra’ southside ocker bogan’ put in ‘Gold Coast‘ descending into that special kind of hoarseness usually reserved  for the alcoholically enthusiastic 5 a.m.’s – yet it still manages prettiness through it.

Which is what I love most about this album – the prettiness woven in with the grit. The lyrically nihilistic undercurrent. What is a hungry ghost but a being searching for something to fill the hole but nothing will sustain them.  Yet they just keep cramming whatever they can find in. Never being satisfied. Sound familiar?

The closing track ‘Hungry Ghost’ has an eerie, sad ambience and plaintive guitar. Delicate vocals, breaking ‘…We don’t last long anyway, Oh God. We won’t last long anyway, Oh God…‘ as the album draws to a beautiful close. Thankfully, these guys will last a while yet.

4/5

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