3, 2, 1...I'M DONE - Screwtop Detonators (Off The Hip)
Some bands with the chance to record an album shoot their bolt in the first song. It's an understandable gambit: Lead with your strongest hand and hope you reel 'em in early so they stay interested. "God Knows" is such a strong opener for Perth's Screwtop Detonators that I thought they'd gone down that path, but two or three more spins of their debut album confirmed they had plenty of ammo in the clip.

"God Knows" struck me like mid-career Clash in a poppier moment with Mick Jones behind the mic and the over-indulgences of "Sandinista" still to blot their copybook. It doesn't kick into gear until close to its halfway point and the upbeat mood plays nicely against the lyrics of what-can-I-do resignation. It's a real keeper and a portent of things to come.

In fact it's exceeded by "Anvil", an effervescent ball of guitar-pop goodness that has such a sense of conviction in the vocals (they're shared by guitarists Benny and Leroy so I'm not sure who to blame) to make the Screwtops seem wise beyond their years.

These songs are full of melody and power and seem more compelling with every play. But I'll stick my neck out and say the best is yet to come. They also aren't afraid to try different things. That's a dash of country in the Pogue-ish "Alcohol and Cigarettes" I do believe, while "On The Run" changes the channel to a warped hybrid of surf-pop that echoes The Eastern Dark. No small wrap there.

"See You Cryin" has an obvious but irresistible hook that's straight out of Pub Rock Central. It's a contender with "Anvil" for best track. "STD" conjures up that Clash undertone on top of a Motor City soul bassline with a horn player adding a cool touch. Minor chord mayhem kicks in with "Be Around", whose brevity doesn't detract from its appeal.

You might make a case for "3, 2, 1..." finishing stronger than it started with "STD", "Nothing Up My Sleeve" and the stop-start crunch of "Transparent" closing things down like a peaking live gig. If so, we'd be on the same page.

Recorded in Perth and new homebase Melbourne, this one grows like a lantana vine in cow manure under tropical rainfall. Get onto it. - The Barman

1/3

 




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