Age is the natural enemy of rock’n’roll. Pete Townshend declared he’d rather die than get old; the Cosmic Psychos promised they’d never get old. All too often, however, rock’n’roll’s institutionalised resistance to the ageing process has confused chronological progression with cognitive devolution: it’s possible to age while not falling into the trap of beige middle-age fatigue. And while it might contradict the dominant rock’n’roll discourse, there’s more to artistic vibrancy than consuming vast quantities of alcohol and narcotics.
And now there’s a new Spiderbait album. It’s eponymously titled, as if to symbolise Spiderbait’s return as a going concern. And it’s very, very good. Kram’s breakneck drumming kicks the album into action on ‘Straight Through The Sun’. It’s a throwback to Spiderbait’s heavy metallic origins: fast, furious and laced with the attitude of yore. Then, the counterpoint: Janet English’s lilting tones bring us ‘It’s Beautiful’, and everything is, well, absolutely fucking beautiful in a way the average suburban evangelical church hopes and pretends will one day exist. The pendulum swings back on ‘Miss The Boat’ for some Sabbath with funk, Tommy Iommi meets Bootsy Collins in South Central; Ozzy and Sly on a two-week coke bender.
‘What You Get’ does for speed rock what Henry Ford did for industrial efficiency. Glam rock meets garage pop meets reflective whimsy on ‘Crazy Pants (Rockstar For A Night)’ and winds up dancing on the table at 4am with mad abandon; ‘Mars’is the morning after.
The album ends with ‘Goodbye’: slightly psychedelic, a bit of raga, a smidgen of The Doors’ ‘The End’, some campfire harmonies and more love than a Moonie wedding. “I’m sure we’ll meet again,” promises the final vocal refrain. Yes, I sincerely hope we do.
Spiderbait is as fresh, young and hip as the band that made it.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Spiderbait is out now through Universal.