Melbourne rockers Press Club put in the hard yards before being picked up by Aussie taste-breaking radio station, Triple J, and going international. Playing an incredible 60 gigs in 2017, they honed themselves as a formidable live presence before signing with Hassle Records in the UK and Europe. Their debut album Late Teens, released January 25, finally gives the rest of us a chance to see what the fuss is about.
Citing influences like Hüsker Dü and Misfits, the album runs to a tight twelve tracks of aggressive, punky rock. Frontwoman Nat Foster barely pauses for breath as we race through angsty, catchy tunes.
It would only be right and proper that an album called Late Teens reminds the listener of that heady, unforgettable stage of life. The echoes of emo, that-oft derided mid-noughties subculture, linger in Press Club. If you spent your youth wearing far too much eyeliner and listening to Paramore this will definitely spark some nostalgia in you.
Press Club even took The Killers’ overplayed indie-landfill hit ‘When You Were Young’ and brought some semblance to life to it for Triple J’s Like A Version series. But much as we would like to, we can no longer live in blissful ‘00s ignorance, and Foster’s lyrics are oddly hopeless, even by emo standards. Bassist Iain Macrae has touched on the frustration the band has felt with the gentrification of Melbourne in interviews. While there’s nothing overtly political here, lines like “I got no man, I got no plan, I can’t win” from ‘Let It Fall’ and “feeling let down, feeling left out” from the downbeat closer ‘Stay Low’ speaks to a sense of alienation and frustration felt by many a millennial worldwide.
Current single ‘Headwreck’ could be a standard girl-goes-out-with-a-douchebag-and-complains-about-it song, but this is 2019. Foster reminds her cheating man that she brings her A-game and tells him “don’t be that guy”. We’re all holding ourselves to higher standards these days. What’s more, it’s a bit of a banger, reminiscent of the brilliant Screaming Females. It’s followed by the great ‘Suburbia’, with its plaintive refrain about leaving your heart in the suburbs. Not glamorous, not cool, but the place where many of us (and most Australians) grew up, and the evocative video is worth a watch.
The frenetic pace never lets up, and this can have the effect of a slight sameyness on first listen. Press Club can really play; Foster can belt out a tune, Greg Rietwyk can shred a guitar, and the band has shown an admirable work ethic and level of independence (everything, even the album art, has been an in-house effort). Late Teens is an impressive debut that hints at great things to come. UK audiences will get a chance to see the renowned live energy of Press Club for themselves, as tour dates are planned for April/May 2019.