Review Summary: Resurrecting the Aussie punk rock legends.
Lately, the Australian punk rock veterans, Bodyjar, have entered the third decade of activity. Initially an underground sensation, they have gradually widened their fan base by releasing a fair number of consistent records and touring with world renowned acts such as The Offspring, Descendents, Blink-182 or Pennywise, among many others. At the dawn of the new millennium, anyone playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 was exposed to the band's most recognizable tune, 'Not The Same', garnering recognition all around the globe. Also, dropping a couple of really strong full lengths (How It Works
and Plastic Skies
) on a major label, helped reaching out to wider audiences. A few years later, after putting out the darker self-titled album, the Jars have slowly faded out of the public's eye, ultimately announcing a hiatus in 2009. However, most recently, after a reunion tour, they have decided a new album was long overdue, so they returned with Role Model
, their first effort in over eight years. While it isn't a step forward, this is more than just a reminder that these guys can still deliver compelling tunes.
Bodyjar have always been one of the more technical punk bands out there, churning a lot of intricate riffs, always topped by great leads. Besides the music, a lot of emphasis was put on the vocals too, as Cameron Baines, the band's unsung hero, has strongly improved his delivery over the years. Fortunately, on Role Model
, all these trademark features are present in top notch form, as if the eight-year gap never existed. Moreover, the band bridges the gap between the harder edged early material, represented by No Touch Red
and even Rimshot
to a certain extent, with the aforementioned more accessible 00s efforts. The best examples of this fusion would be 'Fairytales' and the title track, which constantly switch gears within the structure, while also focusing on the melody.
Other highlights include 'Stranglehold', a tune that could easily find its place on the self-titled record. With a heavier instrumental and some urgent yet infectious vocals, this is one of the most memorable tunes Bodyjar have penned since How It Works
back in 2000. Meanwhile, 'Together Alone' and 'Hope Was Leaving' are undeniably catchy and really pack a punch. The latter features Lagwagon's Joey Cape singing alongside Cameron, bringing to mind the revival/golden days of the genre in the mid-to-late 90s. Even if these are more immediate, the rest of the record doesn't disappoint. Upon a few listens, each track will reveal its charm.
In the end, even if Role Model
isn't a step forward for these guys, it doesn't need to be. Bodyjar are so good at what they've been doing for over twenty years now, they could easily keep the same formula for decades to come and still drop decent records. Since it's the first collection of new material after such a long break, it does its best to remind why these Aussies never should've disbanded in the first place. They are better than a big number of bands in the genre who enjoy a lot more success, yet in order to stay true to themselves, the Jars have returned to indie labels, even though being mainstream only helped them polish their skills.