Nostalgia has been the theme for the last half-decade. Stranger Things conjures nostalgia for the 80s arcade kids who would shutter at the sound of any John Carpenter theme. Disney earn millions on a modern rehash of their own films from the past century. The fashion culture in 2019 is deeply reminiscent of the dad shoe rockin’, streetwear-cross-grungers of the 90s. It’s hard to not force the feeling of nostalgia; for it to feel natural and raw, especially in music where it’s quite easy to mimic your favourite band if you’ve got the right tools. And somehow Life Strike’s debut album, Primitive Future, feels profoundly nostalgic, yet entirely refreshing.
Melbourne based band Life Strike released Primitive Future in mid-August. The band consists of Nick Pratt of former Melbourne’s Deaf Wish fame, and Patrick McCabe of Brisbane’s Dollar Bar, as well as drummer Scotty Brique. Together, they blend an eclectic mix of post-punk riffs, poppy melodies and lo-fi DIY production reminiscent of Guided By Voices.
Primitive Future follows a post-apocalyptic science fiction narrative through its eleven tracks, twenty-nine-minute length. Beginning with Satellite of Fear, the band’s lo-fi guitar distortion could easily fit alongside New York’s finest in a 1970s CBGBs gig. Fuzzed chords alternate against tinny guitar riffs, distant cymbal crashes add space to the track though I wish the drums were more prominent in the foreground. The vocals are distant too, adding to the DIY production feel of the opening track, as the vocals croon “I don’t want to die, not tonight, not underneath the satellites”.
Second track Black Curtain has an aggressive attitude that I find alluring, the performance feels raw as if it’s a live track. The fuzzy distorted guitars are more prominent. Droning minimalist post-punk riffs, evocative of The Fall, allow for a breather from the track’s punky attitude.
The track list follows a similar formula as the album progresses, minimalist passages break up distorted triumphs. Tracks Econo and Pages show the band’s pop song writing prowess, the latter especially as it takes on elements of new wave in its chorus. The band chant, “pages and pages”, echoing against sparkled guitar chords. Indooroopilly Screamin’ and Megabytes Are Dying are highlights in the track listing. The former for it’s excellent post-punk instrumentation, it’s as if I’m listening to a live demo of a Wire tune, the lyrics taking on themes of tribalism and religious abandonment in the band’s post-apocalyptic narrative. Megabytes are Dying is a showcase of the album’s best elements; slightly distorted jangly guitars and poppy vocal melodies, before breaking out into a brightly tinged solo in the last third of the track. It’s an excellent mix of the band’s pop song-writing and deep knowledge of historical post-punk elements.
Life Strike have used nostalgic elements of post-punk to their advantage on Primitive Future. They haven’t copied the formula like many bands have before them. Instead, Primitive Future acts almost as an encyclopedia into the genre. Elements of The Fall lie in their guitar riffs, the brightly tinged guitar solo harkens to Talking Heads, and their lo-fi DIY production sounds as if I’m listening to a bootlegged cassette recording of a band so underground, they refuse to play live. That’s punk rock. Though the vocals throughout the album do fall a bit too heavy on the dissonant side of a harmony, and the interludes detract from the flow of the album, Primitive Future is a celebration of post-punk. Once I moved past the lo-fi bedroom production, I began to appreciate the nostalgic glimmers that the band are playing with. It’s not forced. It’s raw and evocative of the past. Primitive Future sounds like a deliberate album from a band who understand their sound, and more importantly, its roots.
To conjure my own form of nostalgia and quote from the master himself, “Gentlemen you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.”
“Primitive Future”is out now with help from Strange Pursuits and Omnipest INC.
Vinyl available via Bandcamp, with free 4-song 7” EP for a limited time: https://lifestrike.bandcamp.com/
Stream “Primitive Future”
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