The Stress Of Leisure: Achievement

- The Stress of Leisure’s fifth LP Achievement is an off-kilter dancefloor filler. Frontman Ian Powne’s lyrics and vocal contortions flit between overtly sexual to cheekily self-deprecating to unashamedly irreverent while the band creates a little island in the sun of a sound on these nine songs.

The bass walks, the guitars strut, the synths are cruising and the vocals have a swagger that pre-dates swag. On the opener No Idea Is The New Idea he sings “I’m at a party in my twenties, feeling sexy / Feeling in command” like a confident libido inside a body that can follow through, but then follows up with “In my dreams I am bereft / Someone tells me to get effed” with a “Come on!” for effect, and he’s snapped back to self-awareness, much to his and our chagrin.

On Aim High/Get High there’s this interesting juxtaposition that I love in pop music. It’s a little like the ultra-upbeat backing track to The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back that underpins the melancholy lament of the lyrics. In this case it’s a climbing classic rock riff behind lyrics which at one point delve into welfare, food stamps and off-shore detention camps.

Don’t get the wrong impression, it’s a fun album. On one of the later tracks on there White Funk? There’s a declaration that “The Stress of Leisure play your favourite tracks”. It’s tongue in cheek but it shows that the band is comfortable enough in their skin to take the piss out of themselves.

Achievement is my introduction to The Stress of Leisure and I’m glad for it. I’m sure they have a lot of other strings to their bow but I’m glad they plucked this one. The album as a whole is reminiscent of Richard Hell, Television and Talking Heads. All that end of the '70’s, cusp of the 80’s forays into white funk appropriation crossed with punk aesthetic. Only it’s all set in Brisbane and Now. It fits like a white-leather driving glove, on a fist being pumped in the air for maximum irony.

- Nathan Kearney.

Album Details

Album Title: Achievement
Artist: The Stress Of Leisure
Record Label: (TSOL)