Album Review: Super Best Friends - 'Status Updates'

20 March 2015 | 11:39 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In


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There’s a certain caution about artists dating themselves. If you put a time stamp on something, it might lose its importance, or worse, it might be so narrow-focused that it’s hardly striking to anyone. Canberra boys Super Best Friends have prompted us to reconsider that concept.

Never has an album seemed more relevant at this point in time. The ambiguity of music has skewed its ability to be relatable, but Super Best Friends are specific, dealing with everything from Australian history to xenophobes to Australia’s male stereotypes. Hearing the record feels like the first time you kiss someone or rock up at a punk show; it’s new, awkward and exhilarating, all at once.

The album’s opener ‘Conscript’ cements itself as important – Super Best Friends aren’t skirting around the issues, nor approaching them with euphemisms.  In fact, they don’t seem to be scared of offending anyone, unlike the politicians that they mock, which is refreshing and jarring simultaneously. There’s nothing bolder than talking about something that everyone else ignores and doing it with a poignant focus on the truth. It sounds raw, because it is raw. ‘Dog Whistling’ doesn’t even allude, but comments, on colonisation and refugees, political matters that most bands just aren’t up for addressing right now.

Other belters focused on actually saying something include ‘Paranoid Peter Pandroid’, ‘Radio Silence’, which champions surf punk vibes, and ‘Moving Backward’, which has nuanced instrumentals but, more importantly, a fabulous reference to our nation’s most amusing, confusing battle: Kevin Rudd v Julia Gillard.

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Perhaps the most scarring on the record, ‘The Man Song’ is by far its standout. It’s uber-Australian, with downbeat lyrics like, “you’re a dag and the best you can aspire to is cracking a-couple-a-cold-ones”. But it has a sincere function: it’s finger-pointing and blatant, holding a mirror to the male archetypes that bind and restrict our society in order to challenge them. If this is an album you totally disregard, do yourself a favour and find a way to stream this track.

Don’t misinterpret us: it’s not all serious. ‘All My Friends Are Leaving Town’ is a sad and lonely lament on what it’s like to be left behind, but down to its expressions, it’s so very Australian. Gentrified’ and ‘Out Tonight’ are basically shout outs to Australia’s culture and social scene, with a sonic abrasiveness and authenticity. ‘A Billionaires' Club’ is catchy, greedy and fascinating, particularly with its zombie-like strangled repetition of “we want your brains”.  To top it all off, ‘Slow Dance’ does, in compliance with its name, drop the pace, but brings with it a collage of emotions – at times, it’s sentimental and uplifting. Melancholically, at alternative points it’s soft and sweetly desperate.

Despite the fact that some are less charged than others, at the end of the day, every song on the LP is pertinent to anyone living in Australia in this day and age. ‘Status Updates’ is the soundtrack to being Australian that a lot of bands have forgotten to write – music fans know so much about American politics based on musicians being outspoken, but it’s time that our music scene stepped up and made their point, too. It’s like bands are so worried about overseas exposure that they ignore local issues – Super Best Friends are so worried about local issues that shallow strategising to reach a market completely flies over their heads, and to be honest, that’s what makes ‘Status Updates’ so beautiful.

It’s hard to think of another band that’s doing what Super Best Friends are doing right now, and frankly, it shouldn’t be. The Smith Street Band springs to mind, but somehow this album feels so close to home it’s almost like a letter from next door. Pay attention.

1. Conscript

2. Dog Whistling

3. All My Friends Are Leaving Town

4. Gentrified

5. A Billionaires’ Club

6. Out Tonight

7. The Man Song

8. Moving Backward

9. Radio Silence

10. Paranoid Peter Pandroid

11. Slow Dance