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The Goon Sax - Mirror II (Album Review)

Monday, 19 July 2021 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Hugo Nobay

Brisbane trio The Goon Sax have returned with a third album comprising sharply observed post-punk tales of millennial angst. The 40 minute record—their first with venerable indie label Matador—takes us on a journey through low stakes emotional trauma and digital ennui.

It’s an often delightful turn from a band who can count their hometown’s most celebrated musical export, the Go-Betweens, as both spiritual and practical mentors—that band’s co-founder Robert Forster is father to The Goon Sax’s Louis.

Forster the younger shares vocal and songwriting duties with Riley Jones and James Harrison, and the differering voices give ‘Mirror II’ a pleasing variation in songwriting style, darting from Lou Reed-inspired proto-grunge on Temples to primitive electro more closely recalling New Order.

Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but what strings it together is an occasionally childlike style of melody writing, with harmonies rarely deployed and doubled chorus lines giving the youthful nerves of the lyrics greater integrity.

One track that bears this out is In the Stone, a chugging indie-rocker with a magnetic circular guitar riff. Here, Forster and Jones trade verses with a mopey directness that feel both highly attuned and drained: “So I explained the situation / In a hundred ways, testing what sounds true / And meaning none of it at all / Didn't have to sound so disappointed when I called.”

In many ways, ‘Mirror II’ is coming out at the perfect time as things (fingers crossed) begin to unlock post-pandemic, and people move from cooped-up interiors to enjoying their sadboy rock in the company of others. It occupies a particular area of indie music that is often critically lauded and commercially slow-burning—somewhere between the slacker experimentation of Sonic Youth and the tightly arranged alt-indie of the xx.

If there is a criticism, it's a lack of super-memorable melodies, but this is clearly a group who are steadily developing their craft, with an occasional sloppiness that can be captivating. The gold standard here might be The Cure, a band who managed to combine a kind of creative messiness with peerless pop writing. In the meantime this is pleasing, if not yet groundbreaking, stuff.

The Goon Sax Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed September 01 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Hare And Hounds
Mon September 06 2021 - LONDON Moth Club
Tue September 07 2021 - MANCHESTER YES
Wed September 08 2021 - GLASGOW Mono - Kings Court

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