Music Reviews
We're Not Talking

The Goon Sax We're Not Talking

(Wichita/Chapter Music) Rating - 8/10

Whenever we hear a young band who excels at writing music at a level that appeals to adults, we usually treat them with either condescension or blind praise. Brisbane indie-pop trio The Goon Sax fit somewhere in the middle for those who've heard their songs, if only because they have the musical taste of forty to fifty-year-olds even if their lyrical content goes in accord with their twenty-year-old selves. But there are also those little references throughout their latest album, We're Not Talking, which reveal they could probably be smarter than most adults.

On one of the scenarios they bring up, guitarist James Harrison walks past a bookstore, caught up with a far-too-relatable dilemma which caused a chuckle as I heard it: "And it's hard to decide what you want to read/ and it's so hard to be who you want me to be." While he's describing something as practical as wanting to read a book, he's actually projecting his worries, lost in thought. On the jubilant Make Time 4 Love, one of Robert Forster's songs (all members are songwriters who split their dues), he's thinking if he's on the same wavelength with his significant other. They're expressing actions that seem effortless in theory, like being caring to those we care about or even to ourselves, except that it's never as simple as it should.

And yet, We're Not Talking is a riot of a record. It's supposed to be the trio's first foray into "pop" music if your idea of pop means you're fond of The Pale Fountains, Aztec Camera or any of the C86 bands. Again, music which appeals to forty to fifty-year-olds. But boy do they write some of these songs better than some of their progenitors did when they were just as young - the polite, yet ramshackle rhythm of She Knows is reminiscent of early The Go-Betweens, but never did that band show much interest in writing such fully-formed choruses until later in their career, while the stunningly addictive A Few Times Too Many converts the jutting abrasiveness of Postcard Records into a syrupy jangle anthem. They've certainly done their homework, but it's as if they're exploring past references in an attempt to find their own sound rather than hide behind their influences.

The Goon Sax find meaning in their uncertainties, and most of the time, their heads brim with questions as to how they might've gone wrong. Forster is exceptionally blunt at condemning his own temperament in the scruffy Sleep EZ: "Spent some time along doing the things I enjoy/she must be bored/you were tired precious boy," while on the tender Strange Light, it's drummer Riley Jones's turn to reassess the complications which emerge from loving too hard and too quick: "If you'd change your mind the way you change clothes/one hundred times before leaving home." They're perfectly comfortable sharing their flaws, and they admit to their mistakes, never losing sight of the fact that there's many more to come. Considering they've barely made it past twenty, it's remarkable how they're so comfortable accepting their wrongdoings, and how their passing references resonate with such quick-witted tact.

In We're Not Talking, The Goon Sax further their modest songcraft by sprucing up their tuneful sorrow. The trio is quickly developing a signature sound that is honest about where they currently stand in life, as it should be. But there's also a quiet ambition in their crisply strummed compositions, and not just due to their newfound chamber flourishes. There's a seamless fluidity to how they're dependent on each others' input, and their contributions seem to suit their interests. It's an unerringly sincere look into a trio who are moving into adulthood, one stumble at a time. [Believe the Hype]