Whilst Melbourne continues to be Australia’s absolute hotbed of musical talent, close neighbours Vintage Crop (from Geelong) stand out. Their snarling, angular approach is more aligned with US hardcore and indie rock than their next door city peers. Their third album ‘Serve To Serve Again’, released via Upset The Rhythm, follows 2018’s sophomore New Age.
It’s a taut but loose, sarcastic yet serious, upbeat and aggressive, exercise in post punk. And it’s great fun!
First In Line is a confident, angular stop start opener full of catchy hooks and hardcore tinged vocals. It’s tight and super danceable like a cross between Parquet Courts showing their angry side and Omni without the Television bent. A cracking start.
The lackadaisical intro to The Ladder is a foil for the taught Mclusky-esque verse and Vital Idles jangle in the chorus that follows. The lyrics, about white privilege and incest, are darkly hilarious.
Vintage Crop continue to deliver vivid lyrical soundbites. “My thoughts are heavy, full of lead, my neck is sore from holding up my head”. This, on the playfully crooked almost Fall-esque The North. The rolling hooks and wispy synths are also a joy here.
Vintage Crop know when to mix things up just at the right time.
At just under a minute No Praise is a straightforward, short but sweet, punk song. It’s full of chugging guitars and nervous energy. It sets a launch pad for the brilliant SST style hardcore intro of Jack’s Casino. The song shifts towards a looser chorus before ending with the same machine gun drumming of the intro.
Streetview is the centrepiece of the album, clocking at over six minutes. It evolves musically. From bouncing, mirrored guitar and bass hooks, they wind up, flail around and become looser. Like a broken spring eventually grinding to a halt. The lyrics focus on mundane everyday life.
As with many songs at the moment some of the lyrics feel weirdly prescient.
“I’d stay at home all day if I could but that just doesn’t happen in my neighbourhood” for example.
Title track Serve Again is, again, McClusky-esque. There’s also a touch of Sonic Youth due to the straightforward Steve Shelley drumming. Vintage Crop have a knack for a simple catchy chorus or phrase. They deliver the chorus “We Serve To Serve Again” with absolute conviction. Buzzing 80s synth also adds an interesting Goth touch.
The hyperactive My Sharona-with-extra-notes strut of Gridlock features great ping pong guitars. It’s also akin to Terry’s ‘The Whip’ or any number of Devo songs but with that now familiar vocal delivery. An indie home disco smash, no doubt.
Life and Times, mixes things up with a spoken word breakdown amongst the chunky guitar chug. Bad luck tail Just My Luck muses on having no money, eating butter on toast and dropping it on the floor. Finding humour in times of hardship puts Vintage Crop in a perfect position for the ‘new normal’. Whatever that is. The simple shout along chorus is, again, very Parquet Courts.
The band flits between expansive indie rock, hardcore and disco punk in under three minutes on the motorik Tension, before winding things up with Everyday Heroes. This plodding closer brings with it a slightly different atmosphere. It winds down this assured, urgent and exciting record.
Serve To Serve Again absolutely deserves to see Vintage Crop break out to a much wider audience. A great harvest this year!
Omni, Parquet Courts, Les Savy Fav, McLusky, The Cool Greenhouse, Minor Threat