Review: The Goon Sax — We're Not Talking

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at 5:22 PM
Review: The Goon Sax — We're Not Talking by Livia Homerski

★★★★

Now out of high school, Australian indie-band, The Goon Sax, show a more nuanced and varied approach on their second album, “We’re Not Talking.” They released their first album, “Up to Anything” with decent aplomb, averaging about four stars. On “We’re Not Talking,” released Sept. 14, The Goon Sax continue to ride the wave that their 2016 album made, but this time they’re riding with more balance than ever before.

Despite having 12 tracks, the album wraps up in just under half an hour. The Goon Sax are economic with their sounds for three-piece band, using not only the core instruments of bass, guitar, and drums, but also castanets, strings, and even some electronic drum programming.The combination of acoustic guitar, clanky percussion and Harrison’s lax vocals make The Goon Sax sound like a more modern and spunky Belle & Sebastian.

The opening track, “Make Time 4 Love” is a post-breakup tune accented by acoustic guitar and the sound of staccato castanets. The strings in the middle of the song are surprising and refreshing, making this track a very interesting foot for the album to start off on. The song details just trying to get through life faster than you can process your own feelings, which juxtaposes the energetic exterior.

“Losing Myself” has a base of a programmed 8-chip beat, and picked bass with both Harrison’s and James’s vocals layered lightly over top. It’s clear that Jones has become a lot more comfortable in her vocal capabilities since their first album, as her vocals are relaxed but precise in the chorus and controls her “oh oh ohs,” with a soft glottal attack. James sings “It feels like I’m losing myself and that’s news to you,” as though it’s just a passing statement, nothing major. This captures much of The Goon Sax’s efforts on “We’re Not Talking,” mixing the melancholy mess of feelings following a breakup with cheerful apathy.

The rapidly moving chord progression at the beginning of “Strange Light” is a microcosm of the macrocosm of sounds on this album. The ever moving chord progression up and down slightly recalls earlier track “She Knows” and the chaotic “Get Out,” which appears towards the end of the album.

The Goon Sax also slow it down and simplify their message on tracks such as “Now You Pretend” and “Somewhere in Between,” which is a welcome break from the energetic and almost calamitous tone that young indie rockers sometimes take on. The angst is still preserved on these songs, but the variance in song structure sets the tracks apart. While these tracks consist of Harrison’s vocals and piano or keys, they’re not as emotionally compelling as some of the other tracks with more instrumentation. This is mostly because Harrison’s vocal efforts lack the emotion needed to push them to the focal point of the song itself, which is typically the point on stripped down, two part songs.

“We’re Not Talking” is another indie-rock breakup album, and while the efforts have definitely been upped by The Goon Sax, they’re still working towards their own unique sound. While definitely on the right track, the trio still has some experimenting to do in their work, especially with different sounds and incorporating different genres. While the dynamics are definitely in the works, I will be looking forward to what nuances The Goon Sax’s next album will hold. 

Livia Homerski can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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