What to do when you are a young punk band without a care in the world?
Write an album with a central theme of immortality, that’s what!
Which is exactly what Melbourne-based punk outfit Clowns have done for their new album Endless.
Opening up with a surprisingly beautiful piano intro on the title track things soon kick into gear until 35 seconds elapses and Clowns perfectly segue into second track and absolute ball tearer Formaldehyde.
Stevie Williams announces himself with an almighty wail that reverberates sharply in all the right places and all of a sudden it’s ready at the battle stations as Clowns get into doing what they do best.
Jarred Goon and Cameron Rust soon find their footing, engaging in a mini guitar dual that entices Stevie into action and the pace lifts quickly into the red.
Clowns somehow manage to tread that fine line between commercialism and punk contempt with effortless ease and suck you directly into their whirlpool of energy with an instantly catchy number that has a hook big enough to snare Moby Dick.
A well-placed breakdown midway through ramps things up even more, bordering on chaos, as Jake Laderman renews hostilities on his kit and Hanny J begins punishing her bass in perfect timing with well-placed backing vocals that elevate each breath from a gasp to a mighty oomph.
Scared To Die chuggs up next, a wicked guitar lick lurching into an even cooler groove that takes flight as Stevie and Hanny J join forces vocally in a rumbustious union that typifies everything that is good about music.
This is more of a rock-driven number with punk undertones that could easily appeal to those choosing to pogo as those preferring to simply tap their foot with subtle aversions to a slight banging of the head.
Thanks For Nothing eases into things somewhat, a swirling guitar run over the top of a steady drum pattern setting the tone for another up-tempo banger laced with an urge to fist pump the air until the flies trip over.
Hanny takes lead vocals on this track with little fanfare or fuss.
Her vocals are the ideal folly for Stevie’s, each of them dripping with passion and intent that could prove dangerous to get in between.
Bisexual Awakenings, which tackles Stevie’s thoughts on his own sexual preferences through uncompromising, unashamedly provocative lyrics, is another meaty slab of anarchistic intent. Driven by a fluctuating and commanding drum undercurrent, Bisexual Awakenings is pure aggression from start to finish and is bound to become yet another staple track in Clowns live set.
Cecilia Boström from Swedish punks The Baboon Show guests on I Got A Knife, a haze of electronics adding as a buffer between total carnage and restrained ambivalence.
It is an awkward but ultimately rewarding blending of musical style that is part 80s, part 70s and full don’t give a fuck. Where’s my Space Invaders machine?
Z3r0s&0n3s (how the fuck do you even pronounce that?) slides casually next out of the speakers, gathering momentum as it springs to life amid a slew of guitar riffs and a catchy as fuck underbelly. If anything so far from Endless could be played on the radio this unpronounceable track would be it.
Until it decides fuck the radio and spins into an eclectic dimension that brings back the electronics in a whirlpool of guitar and drums that hits with the force of a tornado. But more fun.
Sarah has a more measured and deliberate birthing, carried by a steady drum pattern and tempered guitars that suggest a ballad of sorts.
Fuck that I can almost hear the band shout in unison.
It may be more of a traditional song in terms of structure but it definitely aint no ballad! But it is easily the most accessible track so far on Endless, which is by no means less than complimentary. Until it gets to the back third, and then it becomes just as schizophrenic as anything else…
I’m expecting Charles Bronson to blast out of the speakers for Deathwish but instead am treated to a guitar squeal that veers into much heavier territory.
Laderman rips with some wicked double kicks before the track spins back to the land of the geisha and back again to swirling guitars and rapid-fire vocals.
This track literally has a bit of everything but rather than becoming weighed down in its own experimentation instead rises to the occasion on all levels. It is bottom-end heavy, sludgy and punk-driven all at once in an interesting and unique direction that hints at even more future levels of experimentation from this talented band.
Enough’s Enough smashes from the outset, Stevie resuming hostilities with an unseen foe in a vocal tirade that is more threatening than a fistful of knuckles.
More guitar shenanigans break up the drill-like precision of Laderman behind the kit, but this track is Stevie’s all the way, his snarling and venom-laced vocals painting a sonic blanket of contempt.
A few tempo changes and a nice bottom-end ring fade into the distance before Stevie returns for one final spray that will be tough to follow.
And Clowns must agree because they don’t even try.
Instead, they tee off with the succulent acoustic tidings of Quicksand. It is a harsh step back in intensity but also a welcome respite from the frenetic delivery of the album’s first ten songs.
The tracks kicks in around the two-minute mark as Stevie proclaims “I hate Romeo and Juliet, they make me wanna throw up” and it becomes instantly obvious Clowns were only allowing themselves a bit of breathing room after spending the last 30 minutes or so in top gear.
This is an interesting track, leaning more towards guitar tones than vocal angst, but not once does it feel out of place.
In fact, quite the opposite.
By now Clowns have a reputation for delivering something unexpected musically as the closing track for each album, and Endless is no different.
Featuring the anonymous host of Australian true-crime podcast Casefile (as well as the trumpet by Max Bobzin from German punks Feine Sahne Fischfilet), A Widow’s Son retells one of Australian outlaw, gang leader, and convicted police murderer Ned Kelly’s adventures in the form of a spaghetti western movie soundtrack.
Coming in at just over ten minutes, A Widow’s Son is a wildly entertaining slice of history and highlights yet another side to Clowns’ creative arsenal that seems to be a bottomless chasm.
Bless their cotton socks.