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Monday, May 21, 2012

Lower Plenty review

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Lower Plenty 'Hard Rubbish'

Lower Plenty 'Hard Rubbish'
by SHAUNP on May 21 2012, 04:35PM
Lower Plenty
Hard Rubbish
(Special Award/Easter Bilby)

This is a sad record. It's all lonely interstate road trips, hopeless men, homes fallen to disrepair, and love left to die through inaction. Hard Rubbish is quiet country for weekday afternoons spent staring at the sky in the backyard, waiting for something to happen. “Loneliness is the biggest killer of them all,” Jensen Tjhung sings during 'Strange Beast'. This record sounds like needing company, but not getting it. It sounds like waiting for a phone call.

Lower Plenty features members from Melbourne bands Deaf Wish, Dick Diver and Total Control, among others. It's a thoroughly Melbourne-sounding record too, the chiming and lazy instrumentation belied by the chronic sadness of the group's three vocalists. It sounds like the type of record that would mark the end of an era: the slow dawning of middle age and the sudden importance of not being alone. The realisation that time is passing quickly even while the individual hours seem to drag.

'Work in the Morning' has Al Montfort getting out of bed, but not getting much further. As he recounts his first steps the song's narrative dissolves into nonsense, a kind of delirium brought by inaction. Elsewhere, 'Nullarbor' and 'Grass' play out like companion pieces: in the former Montfort attempts to salvage a broken love, while in the latter Sarah Heyward recounts why it can never be. 'Close Enough' ends the record on a dark note, a dirging march toward a fading light, a reinforcement of the record's already established severity.

Hard Rubbish is unrelentingly bleak. The music carefully insinuates a barrenness, a lazy futility, that the group's sometimes cryptic lyricism cannot, and the whole record acts as a catalyst for the type of deep introspection that can ruin entire weekends. But it's undeniably beautiful too. Cripplingly so. Consume with moderation.

Shaun Prescott

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