When The Goon Sax emerged back in 2016 with their debut album Up To Anything, they were like a shot in the arm for a particular kind of indie. With a sound more akin to The Pastels or Orange Juice than any of their teenage contemporaries, they won critical and commercial acclaim. Their tales of growing up were shared with the accuracy of someone still living through their coming of age, delivered with all the alluring highs and crashing lows that categorise that period in anyone’s life.
It was a record that left one big question mark, what do they do next? The emphatic answer came last month in the shape of the band’s second album, We’re Not Talking. They launched the record into existence with the first single, She Knows, a song that showed both sonic maturity with its scratchy Velvet Underground-like outro, and a lyrical farewell to the naivety of youth with the repeated refrain, “I never knew what love meant, and I still don’t”. It was a manifesto for the record ahead, a track that said goodbye to youth and hello to the everyday grind of young adulthood.
Throughout the record are sublime moments of progress, that still never forget the charm that marked their debut album out as so enticing. We Can’t Win is a masterclass in wistful melancholy, the sort of thing Morissey used to write before he became so deeply disappointing; if there’s a more effortlessly poetic line than, “we don’t want distance but it seems to come to us so easily”, delivered this year, please do let us know. Elsewhere there’s the charmingly lo-fi, keyboard ballad Somewhere In Between and the flamenco tinged Love Lost, both showcasing new sides to their rapidly expanding repertoire. Perhaps the most telling sign of the band’s progress is the increased presence of drummer Riley Jones, her crisp vocal delivery a perfect counter-point to the cracked offerings of Louis and James; whether offering lead-lines in the country-tinged Strange Light, or adding perfect harmonies to the Metronomy like Losing Myself.
The album’s finest moment is the brooding and brilliant, Sleep Ez. All swaggering bass, and angular acoustic guitars, it musically nods to the likes of Cate Le Bon or Olden Yolk. It bristles with intent, as Louis takes lead vocals, sharing a tale of stress and insomnia, “yes I’m cruel but I’m not cold, you think I sleep easy, well I don’t”. The Goon Sax have never sounded so mature, so sophisticated, so darkly intriguing. We’re Not Talking might just be the perfect follow-up, it moves on without forgetting where it began, it pushes their sound in new directions, and makes them an even more intriguing prospect.
Today the band have put together a mixtape on a Light Globe theme, featuring offerings from Lower Plenty, Syd Barrett, Tactics and many more.
“We made the theme of the playlist “Light Globe” because the first song is “Dark Globe” and there is a globe that lights up in this room were staying in in Paris. T’is fate.”
1. Syd Barrett – Dark Globe
Riley Jones (RJ): This song is from´The Madcap Laughs´, it was hard to pick one song but “Dark Globe” feels right. Hauntingly beautiful, so is the cover of the album.
2. Orion- Last
RJ: We’ve been listening to this album in the tour van and it makes it feel like we´re in a party ufo. This song kills, dum dum dum dum, brilliant.
3. Strontium Dog – Lithium Crawl
RJ: Strontium dog ´lithium crawl´from ´fuck the white race´ 1994 popular sentiments to dance to from Brisbane, like us!
4. Lower plenty – How Low Can a Punk Get?
James Harrison (JH): I like this song alot, I like that al talks about everyone being sad, i think i just like the word sad, nice one syllable.
5. Pink Reason – Thrush
JH: Sick song and sick keyboard and so sad, just goes on and on is great i think
6. Tactics – No More Talking
JH: I love how on this tactics record he talks about talking and language so much, mega relatable and its such a fun time too the guitars and his singing rules!
7. Scaredy Snake – Can Be Happy
Louis Forster (LF): A really beautiful song by Heidi! Used to listen to this on the train to work a lot. “Then we can be happy” pops up in my head every few weeks, it feels like you can really exist entirely inside that phrase when you hear it. Great great song
8. Spike in Vain – God on Drugs
LF: Cool footage of Spike in Vain with some ouija board wisdom at the start, take note.
9. Lal and Mike Waterson – Fine Horseman
LF: Lal has a great voice that tears it all up here
10. White House- A Cunt Like You
LF: Listened to this the other day after a swim at the beach, recommended listening.
We’re Not Talking is out now via Wichita Recordings. Click HERE for more information on The Goon Sax.