Review Summary: Punches aren't made to be held back.
Australia has an odd relationship with punk music. For the most part, the scene has been pushed into the extreme fringes and survives as a self-fueling entity. Local Resident Failure is one of the bands that has been spawned from this community and it's evident from the get-go. From rampant Australianisms to critiques on Australian culture, this album is not one geared towards an international market. There's no relenting in the album's relatively short 32 minutes playing time, with most of the songs being energetic pop-punk.
What keeps this album from falling too short is that the band is always twisting and turning throughout the record. Take the songs In Sickness and Health
and Sleeping Beauty
, for example. The former is a fast paced song filled with sadness, reflecting on the death of a close family member, whilst keeping up a blistering pace, which then trails straight into the latter song. Sleeping Beauty
contrasts the grittiness of In Sickness and Health
with its light-hearted reflections on dating and finding your other half in a person who's not like you at all. This sums up the dynamic of the album. From well pointed political commentary on the treatment of asylum seekers on Christmas Island, to satirical songs directed at the state of Australian culture, A Breath of Stale Air
is designed to not hold back punches.
The instrumentation is all at a high level, which is to be expected from the punk veterans. There are tight guitar rhythms which blend in with interwoven melodies, audible bass runs and drumming tight enough to keep the skins tight. However, this is a tendency at times that some of the guitar lines get a bit samey, but for the most, songs are kept short and sweet to avoid the danger of becoming boring or drawn out. It’s to be complemented how well the guitar tracks are balanced on this record, with the bass’s rhythmic pounding and slides being comfortable sat against the guitar track, something that is sadly overlooked in many of the scene’s recordings.
In conclusion, this is a tight, well-maintained record which sums up the growth in the scene. Local Resident Failure have crafted a punk album, that while geared at a niche audience, can be listened to and enjoyed by people out of the scene, as well as those with no idea about Australian culture.