LAZERTITS | NOT PUNK, PER SE (LP)
The debut album from Melbourne’s Lazertits feels a long time coming. It’s been over a year since they dropped their stunning Aubergine Dreams EP but they are back with their most impressive work to date. Not Punk, Per Se is a scrappy wonderland of thought provoking tracks that are as fun to listen to as they are important to discuss. It maintains the social commentary found in all the best pub rock style material, but adds a new filter to the rhetoric.
From the first moment of opening track Yeah Nah the album is off to a fuzzy start. The oft-abused Australian colloquialism forms a cyclical rhythm that the track is built around, setting the tone for the release, overflowing with energy, passion and more importantly interest. Stashed between the chanting chorus, they encourage empathy before judging someone’s character. The sarcasm drips from lines like “I’ll kill, for the thrill, of being your girl, yeah nah, yeah nah” and informs new listeners that this isn’t an album about fitting into clichés or stereotypes. The members of Lazertits have an overwhelming sense of respect for both themselves and each other that makes their material electric and engaging but mostly inspiring. Sure, the album reveals some unpleasant truths about both society and day to day life, but it does so in such a way that is both relevant and engaging. The rough structuring of each song allows them to break the rules, losing the need for nuanced lyricism or carefully structured half terms.
A subtle, but common theme across the release is the sense of being comfortable with yourself. From the dismissive Yeah Nah the album trails into Forshore which once again places the women of the band in a position of dismissing unwanted advances and ideas. “All you want’s a trophy wife” points out their feminism, and a lack of interest in playing that role in a relationship. Again, in New Friend Lazertits suggest that they just “want to be your friend” and in Bad 4 Bizness they open with a series of sleazy lines directed at women showing that direction of social commentary that Lazertits have decided to take across Not Punk, Per Se. It is, quite simple, a feminist concept album for those living day to day lives. It isn’t a release that’s trying to be political, or make sweeping public statements. It’s personal and down to earth. It’s an album that you can either relate to, or learn from. In fact, it’s probably both.
From their earliest material, Lazertits have told stories with their stories and told them well. They’ve been witty and funny, and they’ve been honest and relatively humble. Across Not Punk, Per Se they take a slightly simpler tone. The lines are not quite as witty as we saw in Boss Bitch, but with nine songs clumped together they have the chance to build a better narrative, and better educate their listeners. For, at its core, Not Punk, Per Se is almost an educational tool. It has the dual effect of telling guys to just shut up for once, and step back, but it also teaches the confidence to actually say that. As much as the lyrics tend to revolve around men being painful, the messages work on a bigger scale than that. The album is about social change, asking us to show a little respect for others. Bad 4 Bizness’ lyric “when’s your break time, maybe we should make time” sounds innocent enough, but will ring true for everyone with not enough time or space. This is a release that paints day to day life in broad brush strokes such that everyone can relate to, or learn from the release.
The high point of the release comes in the penultimate track. Nice Guys is a track that so easily, and bluntly summarises the entire album and is so purely relatable to the female experience documented by other songwriters. Placing the track later in the album was a smart move on a number of fronts in that the pretext is built through those earlier tracks and as a reward for those who stuck through the first seven (albeit very good) build up tracks. Given the context of Lazertits, and that thanks to limited national radio support, it’s likely that the band are first discovered by fans on stages. And that is exactly where Nice Guys works best. “I came to your gig, let me buy you a drink, I’m a friendly guy” is obviously leery and unwanted. In no way are Lazertits telling people not to come and say hello, but rather distinguishing between entitlement and friendly fans. It’s important here to consider that Lazertits aren’t attacking men, they are merely opposed to the entitlement some feel. And that is where this album really shines. It’s a call to arms for all listeners to just pick what they care about and act on it. It’s a chance to actually show what you believe in, and to yell and shout about it.
When Not Punk, Per Se comes out, it’s unlikely to get heavy radio rotation, and goodness knows the wider blog community will forget about it buried under the hype of Tayler Swift’s Reputation. But that’s part of what makes it so valuable and exciting of a release. It’s an album to be shared, much like their EP and earlier singles were. In the same way, each show has a new collection of fans being dragged in by the hands, Not Punk, Per Se encourages listeners to show it to their friends, to talk about it, and to relate. It’s an album to form a community around and look towards a better future with. Sure, the lyrics are a little scrappy and can be a challenge to learn, and maybe a stellar guitar solo could add some novelty or cliched excitement, but it doesn’t need cheap tricks. The only thing Lazertits need to thrive with an album like this is the willingness of new ears to give it a listen. Not Punk, Per Se is an album to listen to, an album to discuss, but most of all an album to live.
Lazertits will be launching Not Punk, Per Se at The Curtin Saturday November 25th alongside Bitch Diesel, Hexdebt, and Face Face.
Tallest kid at every gig // Questionable dancer at best // twitter/instagram: ayds_on_toast