The Stress Of LeisureEruption Bounce

- There’s many qualities to the latest record by The Stress Of Leisure, but if I had to pick one ahead of all others it’d be pep. The band would prefer to call it Eruption Bounce, but toe-mate-oh / toe-maat-oh and there’s way too much energy bursting out all over the shop to even think about calling anything off.

I tried to work out where all that enthusiasm was coming from and I looked to the lyrics on this latest full-length for evidence. Initially I thought the band were being heavily ironic: serving up fructose sweet musical tang, but dosed with cynical, poisonous messages, really socking it to everything that’s wrong with the world. That’s not it, but neither is this record just blandly euphoric pop. Much more of Eruption Bounce just presents its subjects … kinda neutrally? Like the songs pick a topic and say “here it is, you make up your own mind about it.” From technology, to romantic relationships, real-estate, health and well-being, The Stress Of Leisure point to an issue and say, “well, how about that?” It’s kinda weird, but at the very least it’s got me thinking, sometimes in multiple directions at once. Take the creepily titled Hard For Her. It’s emotionally very honest: “You know I’m hard for her / I’m not taking it back / It’s not a movie / She’s not a stripper / It’s not some bumper sticker.” It’s almost sensitive new age guy territory, or, wait, is this some kind of over-sexed, male-privilege, Harvey Weinstein horror? Sometimes Eruption Bounce seems quite subversively clever, sometimes I just can’t tell. Oh well, musically at least, it’s a little easier to work out what’s going on.

For a band that started in 2009 there’s bugger-all in their sound that links them to that point in time. There’s quite a bit that you can link to the alt-pop of the ‘90s that a lot of Brisbane bands indulged in, a-la The Melniks or Sekiden or as TSOL’s Ian Powne semi-jokingly refers to it: the Custard family. The ‘90s is not the only stop the band make, however. You’ll need to head all the way back to the late ‘70s to find the other part of what they do. Ian Powne is quite a fan of late punk, post-punk and new-wave. It’s most evident in his vocals. They find an easy echo in David Byrne, although I’m given to understand that Powne most reverently worships at the altar of Television’s Tom Verlaine circa the Marquee Moon album. Additionally, in an interesting twist, as the record progresses, you’ll hear it get weirder and wider. It doesn’t abandon the pep and the pop but adds head-melting progressive and ambient touches. The fusion is quite delicious, giving a bit of a renaissance experience to those who stick it out to the end.

As I said, whatever musical style you discover in here, you’ll always find it in service to that energy which is the primary quality of Eruption Bounce; all that pep. I think it’s because, whatever subversive lyricism or subtle musical layering TSOL engage in, the most important thing is that they’re having fun. For a band that started too late to be wet-behind-the-ears rock-star wannabes, they’re very clear about what they want from all this: a chance to put their music out there, not overthink the business and just enjoy themselves. It’s really effective: the band are completely honest about not being kids, but a record like this makes the years fall away, like they’d never happened. There’s a lot to like about a band that can do that.

- Chris Cobcroft.

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