Thursday, 15 May 2014
Seriously, I don't know how to review Jersey Flegg, the debut (and possibly only ever) album from Sydney band You Beauty. There are so many contradicting variables here that should make this record bloody terrible. First of all, just look at the band photo. Not that these guys look terrible - they just look like a quintessential 2010's era guitar band from Australia. You Beauty looks like dolewave writ large and at its worst - the Urban Dictionary definition image. Secondly, the album is a concept album. Jesus, this is diving. Thirdly - it's about a faded rugby league player suffering with faded glory days, heart pangs, alcoholism and his own sullied self-worth. Fourthly - it's called Jersey Flegg. That is like park footy basically.
The four piece are from Sydney bands who are steeped in angular seriousness - Hira Hira, Absolute Boys, Mere Women, Ohana - and are all technically great. Each song on Jersey Flegg is meticulously constructed and paced. It's funny and memorable (which has it elevated about many of their contemporaries right there).
Then there are lines like this:
"They wanna know about 93 when everything looked so good for me/Id pull up to the ground in my LTD with its grain on the dash and leather seats" and "I bought a house for me old man/And one for me mother/That's where I live now" (both from 'Mennal Mondays')
"Saw you at a thing for children's TV/The club sent me cause I had choof in my pee" (from 'Ann-Maree')
"You coulda had Whispering Jack play at your wedding day" and "It's back to chasing thrills down at the Cross" (both from 'Now Her Skirt')
"Went to training drunk...fuck it!/Had to have a spew in the oranges bucket" (from 'Crummy Thoughts')
Seriously - the whole album is inimitably quotable. This is littered with Australian colloquialisms that not only makes me laugh, but are sung with such honesty by Will Farrier that you can't help but believe in this inner west Sydney underdog story. Favourite song? 'Scent of my Youth'. Brilliant guitar line, even better drumming, and the vocal delivery of Farrier as he details the protagonist's grassroots, working class childhood and the clear trajectory he was always destined to follow...but then it bleeds into the bizarre yacht rock love song 'Ann-Maree' - and then there is the penultimate mentor track where he actually meets "Rabbits" Warren, the famous rugby league commentator...then there is the wry redemption song 'Off The Bench'...
Do you see? None of this should work. It should be a bad, mistimed joke, worthy of a grin filled with chagrin, missed opportunities and Matty Johns in a mawkish, mugging cameo. And it's so Aussie, and even niche within the demographics of stalwart NRL junkies. Instead, it's an incredibly well crafted album, and deliberately not twangy, twee or too easy to play. It's got the cast off swagger of an 80s pub/lounge band swinging from post-punk brevity and New Wave wistfulness. It's about fucking rugby league. And it's possibly the best album of 2014 - GLOBALLY.
You really need this album. Grab Jersey Flegg on digital here, and on cassette through newly-minted Brisbane label Second Empire here.