While it’s far from unusual for bands from overseas to find their footing in countries other than their own, their sense of national identity can often feel slightly diminished, watered-down somewhat, in an effort to maximise their appeal. Fortunately for Melbourne’s Smith Street Band, they embody an Australia that’s both stereotypical yet fitting of their generation.
Saturday, 22 April 2017
“I don’t want to make you feel nostalgic for something that never happened,” sings Alex Luciano on ‘I Don’t Know Her’, the penultimate track on Diet Cig’s debut LP. It’s an interesting sentiment, especially taking into account the ability of Swear I’m Good At This to make you feel just that.
While Melbourne’s The Smith Street Band effortlessly craft images of a suburban Australia rarely experienced by those of us on the other side of the world, it’s not a sense of pseudo-exoticism that affords the band their resonance. Rather, it’s the familiarity of the scenes that play out against such a backdrop, and the emotional response to said scenes, that offer the appeal.
Having made their name thanks to their trademark angular and heartfelt pop music, that Maxïmo Park’s sixth LP ‘Risk to Exist’ should be predicated on politics comes as something of a surprise. It probably shouldn’t, however. The band’s native North East is a region built on industry, and like many others in the UK, has been hit hard by government cuts and rising unemployment. For a band whose lyrics are often hinged on a nostalgic romanticism to become a mouthpiece for the voiceless, the situation must be pretty grim indeed, and not just up north.