Release date: October 6
I actually wrote this review in late August, weeks before the tragic passing of bass player Paul Woseen. While I was tempted to rewrite it in light of recent happenings I ultimately decided the best way to pay respect and honour to Paul’s memory was to leave the review as first written.
He knows how much we all love and miss him.
One major thing I have always admired about Aussie rock bands is very few of them allow themselves to get stuck in a recurring time warp.
By that, I mean that I could name on one hand the number of our bands that have foregone the refreshing creativity of writing and recording new music in favour of recycling familiar favourites and travelling the same merry-go-round of life that they first started on decades ago.
Not that there’s all that much wrong with that scenario if you are happy doing it, but I, for one, still love the exhilaration of finding new favourite songs from old favourite bands and still feeling as though I am a part of their forward trajectory rather than reliving glory days in a time capsule.
Maybe that’s just me, but bear with me, I do have a point here.
Which brings me to The Screaming Jets.
One of the few bands in the world that could have stopped writing after their debut album and floated through the rest of their career on the back of one song, the Jets – although to their credit they still play that particular song with energetic passion at EVERY show over 30 years later – have continued pumping out new material much to the adulation of their ever-growing legion of fans.
But age inevitably catches up with the best of us and despite touring harder than ever before The Screaming Jets have allowed eight long years to pass between drinks.
And left the rest of us thirsty.
The boys are about to rectify that blot on their character when they drop album number ten Professional Misconduct on October 6.
Will it be worth the wait? Let’s find out.
Lead single Nothing To Lose kicks things off with a typically stirring harmonious intro before guitarists Scotty Kingman and Jimi Hocking get to work and lay down the grooves.
Frontman Dave Gleeson joins the chorus asking “what have I done, what can I do?”, to which there is no straight answer.
It’s been eight years Mr. Gleeson. Fuck knows what you have done, but I bet you enjoyed it…
By now The Screaming Jets are seasoned professionals, road warriors who moonlight as a rock band and all the years of service to rock and roll are openly on display from the outset with the boys slipping straight into a pocket and shutting out everything bar their music.
A well placed guitar run spices things up a bit before ripping into solo territory that quickly flashes from earshot and blends quietly back into structure before resurfacing towards the track’s end and carrying it home with restrained elegance.
Come Down starts with Dave accusing us of taking his cake and eating it, but he soon gets off his high horse and his head back in the game as his trusty bandmates rush to provide sonic comfort.
This track rocks in all the right places, chugging along at a steady pace until another guitar rip builds momentum before soaring into the darkness at meticulously placed junctures.
If this song isn’t in the setlist the next time I catch the Jets then… well, then I probably won’t hear it… but I would bet the neighbour’s cat that it will be.
No Reason is a stripped back, raw sounding and pleasant rock number that allows the Jets breathing space. A good friend of mine once told me it’s not what you put into a song that makes it special. It’s what you leave out.
Until now, I had no idea what he was talking about, but the penny seems to have finally dropped.
It would be easy to wail over the top of things in a song like this – hell, some people would actually expect it – but the fact every note is crisp and clear without competing with or against friendly fire definitely stands out here.
Recently released single Second Chance meanders out of the box with a rhythmic, shuffling tempo that is instantly addictive.
Early reviews have labelled Second Chance as one of the finest ballads of the Jets 35 year career and at this stage I find it hard to disagree.
Not that I am a fan of the ballad, as we well know, but I’m not even close to throwing something at the stereo which has to be a good sign.
A beautifully soulful guitar solo – and no, I’m not even going to try and guess which of the two alternating lead guitarists is playing at any set juncture – elevates things to an even calmer plain and for a brief moment there I could almost swear I heard Dave crying into his pillow, but I’m not sure enough to wage anyone’s cat on that one.
Throwing Shade is a straight-up rock banger, bouncing to life with renewed vigour. Although more of a blues-driven rock track, it still gets the juices flowing enough to almost throw my back out which nearly has me pressing the backwards skip button.
If there is one noticeable fact so far on Professional Misconduct it would be the more balanced nature of music inherent on each song. Gone is the carefree, almost reckless sense of craziness that filtered through almost every song and in its place is a – and trust me, I can’t believe I am saying this – more mature approach that only the soothing touch of contentment can bring.
The Screaming Jets no longer have anything left to prove. To themselves. To their fans. To anyone. And with this notion comes the cathartic realization that with no expectation comes no pressure and with that in turn comes absolute freedom.
Lying With Her has an instant country feel to it, a sole acoustic guitar gently plucking away over a dreary landscape of broken hearts and dreams. If you close your eyes you can almost feel the warmth of the campfire as you imagine Dave sitting on a log, guitar in hand, akubra hat delicately balancing on an unseen weathered face as the ghosts of 1000 fallen brothers dance through the flames.
Fuck me, this song must be good. Where the fuck did I just pull that from?
Shadows fires up with an impatient-sounding drum roll that soon finds solace as the empty pockets of music once more dominate the sonic landscape of less is more.
While certainly having moments of pent-up rock aggression sporadically forcing their way to the forefront, Professional Misconduct is much more than just another rock album.
I’m sure there will be some who cry foul that the Jets have let their music do practically all of the talking so far but let’s face it, those people probably wouldn’t even be happy with a free Happy Meal.
Crash Out Of Time swaggers up next, a cool guitar riff giving that strut kind of vibe that is swept away by a solid tempo from fresh drummer Cam McGlinchey who has settled into the band as though he has been there from the start. The man is a weapon live but shows off his chops and groove with greater restraint on this, his first album, and hopefully not his last.
Midway through the song a totally unexpected guitar-driven breakdown kicks things up another gear and now the Jets are just showing off. And why shouldn’t they when they can put out high-quality music like this?
Give Me What I Want reverberates to life as the second last song and immediately brings the feels with an almost Tex Perkins-type vibe an underlying focal point.
Dave’s voice has copped a bit of a workout over the course of the album, but it doesn’t sound like he has raised even a drop of sweat. But then, why should he, he does enough of that on stage.
This is another blues-based, guitar-infused slab of awesomeness that does exactly what it has to without trying to dazzle us with speed or baffle us with bullshit.
Speed Quack is given the task of taking us home, and it sounds like this particular duck might have taken to his stash just a touch too often.
It is a rollicking and fun ride to the finish line that doesn’t even bother pausing to look back.
The duck is the perfect embodiment of where The Screaming Jets are at right now. Head down, bum up, tail defiantly in the air and if you want to get down and dirty and quack with them then jump on board, but if not their feathers won’t be ruffled in the slightest.
In answer to my earlier question of was the wait worth it, that would be an emphatic yes. Maybe even a fuck yes.
Welcome back kids.
P.S You may have noticed I didn’t reference Paul Woseen on bass throughout the entire review, and there is good reason for that.
It’s Paul fucken Woseen, bass-playing God and lyrical mastermind. What’s left to say?