While Australian punk band the Chats’ debut LP High Risk Behaviour is only 28 minutes long, it is packed full. Featuring 14 fast-paced songs, the record, released March 27, is a fresh, new addition to the punk world. Drawing from garage rock, the Chats add a more modern flair to traditional ’70s punk. Each song is a barrage of frantic guitars and drums, backed by a clear, ceaseless bass.
The album begins with “Stinker,” an energetic song the band throws out right at the start. Lead singer and bassist Eamon Sandwith’s voice smoothly delivers the pessimistic but humorous lyrics. His Australian accent, not too often heard in punk music, is a nice touch to the rough vocals of the genre. This song shows that the Chats mean business, featuring an excellent guitar solo that combines punk elements with good ol’ rock ’n’ roll.
“Drunk n Disorderly” follows suit with its fast drums and truly “disorderly” nature. But the next song, “The Clap,” is the kicker of the record. It’s short, but draws big laughs with its brash delivery of a rather unorthodox topic, filling in the craving for crude humor that is nowadays sometimes missed.
Holding down the ridiculous comedic strain, “Identity Theft” tells the tale of a poor lad who has fallen victim to the album’s titular crime. Sandwith sings, “I was paying for drugs on the internet/ I was feeling invincible with my VPN/ Now a hacker’s stole me credit card number, and my identity too.” It’s an incredibly catchy, well-executed song that persuades listeners to sing along, though they hopefully don’t relate to the lyrics whatsoever. And, to top it all off, the song boasts another stellar guitar solo courtesy of guitarist Josh Price.
The next few songs, particularly “Dine N Dash” and “Pub Feed,” evoke the vision of a ragtag, up-to-no-good group of kids. The punchy bass is the star of each track, driving home the Chats’ image of teens jamming in their parents’ basements.
“Keep the Grubs Out” has a chugging bassline intro to hook listeners in, but it’s the rest of the track that keeps them there. The song is supposedly about Sandwith’s experience being denied entry into a bar because he had a mullet. In the lyrics, Sandwith thus takes on the persona of the security guard, singing, “And I’ll have you know, mate/ That people with your disgusting haircut/ Are not welcome on these premises.” While listeners may not be able to feel his pain, they can still appreciate his frustration, which is set to some good music.
Another standout track is “4573,” high up in the ranks for best track on High Risk Behaviour. The song’s melodic breakdowns hit the sweet spot, but primarily because of the generous guitar solo. At this point in the record, the guitar solos begin to sound similar to the preceding ones, but they’re all so incredibly good that each one is more than welcome. With “4573,” the Chats prove their understanding of what a well-crafted guitar solo can do for a song. It’s certainly worth raving about.
The Chats end the album with “Better Than You,” a satirically boastful song that one could assume is about how the Chats are better than “us.” After a lightning-quick sequence of songs, “Better Than You” slows the pace down, building up to instead of starting at a 10. It sounds like more of an indie track than a punk one, while still upholding the quality of the band’s brand.
High Risk Behaviour reclaims the DIY punk sound missed by many. With an influx of punk-variant bands, such as surf punk, pop punk, skate punk and more, the album is a reminder that before all of these subgenres, there was pure punk rock. High Risk Behaviour is a raw, real record that’s perfectly satirical and critical of society, mixed in with dark, goofy humor. It’s a strong start to the Chats’ discography, and fans should be looking forward to what’s next in store for the band.
Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].