Good Boy: Shirk Life

- There’s a lot that Good Boy aren’t happy with. They may not want to be a political band, but they sure have a lot of bones to pick. Still, sometimes I wonder how much of the energy Good Boy have comes from... just how much they hate Bundaberg. They’re three lads doing everything they can to get to somewhere where people will actually listen to their music, so they never have to go back, ever.

If the No Love For Back Home EP didn’t tip you off, then 1972 VW Superbug, track number two on their new EP, Shirk Life, will let you know for sure. It features two dudes rocking around Bundy in the eponymous super car. “No, but nothing has changed / You said nothing would remain the same / That it’d change from day to day” Rian King drawls with an air of disbelief. The song builds from a pleasant, acoustic jangle, louder and louder till the guitars thundering, drown the vocals. It’s a whole wave of unspoken emotion condemning and celebrating at the same time.

In a way the composition -with its almost post-rock form- is a bit unlike anything Good Boy have done, but it also reaches to the very core of the band. Hearts right out there on their sleeves they yell “yeah, it’s **** and we’re in the middle of it!” It’s almost as emo as The Smith Street Band and back when Good Boy’s breakout hit Poverty Line was just about inescapable, every hour of every day on the airwaves, I thought the formula was a little bit simple.

It’s not actually, along with being pretty prolific -knocking out three EPs in about a year- Good Boy are surprisingly musically diverse. Look at all the bands they get compared to: King KruleDick DiverWhite DenimCloud NothingsParquet Courts and even Eddy Current. Reading some of that did my head in a bit, at first. Really though, there’s little fragments of all of them (and probably quite a few more besides: Springsteen or Woody Guthrie for instance), going together to make what Good Boy are.

You can pick out some key stylistic features, jangle-pop is a big, Dick Diverish part of what they do and I get that most from King’s untutored, nasal, shrill voice. Musically, deliberately just a little bit off, delivering lyrics that are a bit more astute and keenly observed than you’d expect. At the other end of the spectrum there’s the complex, lush, indie art-rock I associate with US bands like Parquet Courts and I hear it echoing most strongly when Tom Lindeman’s guitar work lays down its most infectious riffs. Those extremes cross-pollinate pretty readily, bound together by the dauntless energy of the band, driven by Stu Mackenzie’s relentless drumming.

It’s exactly the right sort of engine-room to power King’s lyrics and they land like punches at exactly the right time for Aussie audiences who’ve had enough of fat-cat businessmen, careerist politicians and moral wowsers. They’re sick to death of everyone holding a better, saner future to ransom. “Holding hands, one love between two guys / Equal! And indiscreet / Don't care much for tradition or sanctity.” Right on.

Wherever it comes from, probably somewhere deeper in the human psyche than that part filled with a roiling hatred of Bundaberg, Good Boy have arrived on stage, right place and right time. An improbably effective mixture of raw punk energy, musical skill and a message perfectly attuned to the moment.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: Shirk Life
Artist: Good Boy
Record Label: (Barely Dressed / Remote Control)