2000 – Epitaph/ Shock Records
This record from Australian punk rockers Frenzal Rhomb is a frantically fast, ridiculously loud, sneering, swaggering, sixteen-track burst of juvenile fury, and, while that sounds like it could be very annoying, it actually comes out alright.
Everything’s Fucked and Runaway are wonderfully energetic and kicking and they make for a good introduction to the album. There is a certain kind of purity in the group’s snotty rambunctiousness, and there is a great deal of fun to be had with their obvious throwaway air. The two follow up tracks, however, really aren’t so great. They’re basically the same as the starters, but lacking whatever it was that made them any fun in the first place.
Really most of this album is average sounding punk – there’s not really a whole lot too it and it’s not all that original. It’s mainly just a bunch of teens with nothing better to do than thrash the crap out of their instruments. Some tracks do stand out though, like War which comes out sounding like a good old-fashioned pub-rock punk chant the likes of which you’d get from someone like The Clash in the early years (it also has a nice little ska styled parody of a breakdown in the middle which gave me a little grin), and Nothing’s Wrong which, as stupid as it is, is so brazenly Australian and poppy in its melody that you can’t help but like it just a little.
One of my main issues with this record, apart from the fact that it’s on the whole pretty average, is the fact that the band skip around from righteous juvenile anger to tongue-in-cheek humour in the beat of a drum – which on this record is an incredibly short time. I mean, it just sounds like they didn’t know what the hell they were trying to achieve when they were writing the songs. I’m all for humour in songs, and I don’t mind when things get a little political, but at times when I was listening to Shut Your Mouth I found myself wondering what I was supposed to make of all this. Is it a joke? Are you being serious? I guess I’d just like some consistency.
My other issue with the album is that, while the band play like punks and the singer is charmingly off key, the whole thing sounds a tad overproduced – if you’re going to present yourself as this raw you should probably sound it too. This is a pretty small issue, however, and it’s more of a personal taste of mine when it comes to punk. I’m sure there are some people out there who liked the cleaned up sound, I’m just not one of them.
So my verdict is that Frenzal Rhomb’s Shut Your Mouth is pretty much okay. There are some good tracks, but nothing that really shines. There are also a whole load of average sounding tracks, but nothing on here actively sucks. I guess it’s all just pretty lacklustre, but if cheeky Aussie hardcore punk is the kind of thing you’re into then you’d probably want to check it out.
One of the better tracks from ‘Shut Your Mouth’