REJECTIONVILLE - Kryptonics (Reverberation/Memorandum)
If ever there was a case of the right band, wrong time, it was Perth's Kryptonics. No word of a lie and no reviewer embellishment needed. The music tells the story - and it's high time it was written by this twin-disc, 38-track retrospective spanning their lifetime (1985-92.)
The generous booklet tells the tale in exhaustive detail but here's the conundrum for these guys (and girl) and a handful of other Australian bands from the same time and place: The Kryptonics spent a good time of their existence in The World's Most Isolated City (Perth) when '60s/garage/Detroit-styled rock and roll was all the rage in Sydney. When they finally made it to the East Coast, live venues and willing labels were in full retreat. The Kryptonics had energy and pop smarts, but these weren't bankable assets in the face of restrictive pub trading laws, random breath tests for car drivers and (deep breath) grunge.
This might seem a story of revolving door line-ups and resilience in the face of hard luck but the music shines through - brightly. On that note, look no further than "Trapped Inside", the bona fide gold-plated hit-that-should-have-been that sits a quarter of the way into disc one. If, in retrospect, The Kryptonics were never again to come up with a pop-rocker of such blinding luminescence, it wasn't through lack of trying.
I have to admit that "Rejectionville" fills a few yawning gaps in my long dismemb ered but still much-loved vinyl collection (re-issujes a happy trade-off for living in the Digital Age) but I never realised how chameleon-like was main-man and only constant member Ian Underwood was in his ability to shape-shift his band. Perhaps this is a product of being a callow youth with a big record collection/receptive ear.
Then again, the mix of '60s punk. psychedelia and Detroit rock that the Kryptonics brought to bear was also probably as much a reflection of who was in the line-up at any particular time. Only the Northbridge dole office would have played host to so many of Perth rock's gainfully unemployed. Members notably included Peter Hartley and Brett Ford (Lubricated Goat), Russell Hopkinson (You Am I, The Bamboos, Nursery Crimes and, more recently, Radio Birdman), Peter Kostic (Front End Loader, Hard Ons), Greg Hitchcock (New Christs, Neptunes, You Am I and The Monarchs.) There's more styles in that lot than a convention of Double Bay hairdressers. if fewer manbags.
Like Paris Hilton going to jail, there are some great moments. The title track is black leather bliss, a diamond hard rocker that's a keeper. Wistful surf-tinged pop gets a guernsey on "Melancholy Valentine" and the Plimsouls cover "I Want You Back" (recorded for a tribute in '91) is glistening greatness. The Kent Steedman-produced "When It's Over" strips things back to greasy garage lo-fi of a form that could have matched strides with the Gurus, given more of a hearing. The bouncy "Baby" could have done likewise. Probably unwittingly, when the pubs shut, the arguments were over and the landlord had long called last drinks, both bands chomped on a similar stylistic kebab. I'll spare you the old one about the contents of Perth water.
CD one compiles most, if not all, The Kryptonics' vinyl output and it could have ended there and still been a re-issue of desire. The ride gets more varied on disc two, culling songs from more obscure sources spanning the band's history. Some of it's been rescued from cassette, so the quality if variable, and there's a darker edge to a few of the songs ("Swamp Stomp" and "Cyclops".) It'll be your choice to take the relatively comfy, tattered chair or roll around on the pub's sticky carpet. Either way, you'll get your money's worth.
You could have filed The Kryptonics as one of those second-tier bands that more people had heard about than heard. Hindsight shows the ranking might have been different with just a smidgin more luck and better timing. "Rejectionville" rights some wrongs and makes it OK to look backwards.
– The Barman
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