In a world where the wage gap grows and the soundscape shrinks, Frenzal Rhomb’s Hi-Vis High Tea is a God send. With mainstream music’s complete distaste for anything remotely impressive and innovative, it’s great to see an Aussie punk band bringing a sense of instinctive brilliance back into music. With Hi-Vis High Tea, the band manage to tackle the political issues in a way which appeals to both avocado aficionados and tradies alike.
With the band’s abilities being backed by some slick studio production, this album sees Frenzal Rhomb continue to grow. The clarity heard within the final mixes of Hi-Vis High Tea gave a moment of audial clarity that most punk outfits are sorely lacking. The potency of the bass riffs blends effortlessly with the guitars throughout the mix.
Testifying to the fantastic production and production surrounding this iconic Aussie act is the song, ‘Messed Up’. With its revivalist sound, ‘Messed Up’ brings all of us back to a time where punk was king. This song amplifies Frenzal Rhomb’s ongoing relevance in the punk scene and Australian music as a whole. This punk ballad’s blend of heavy instrumentation and sincere intent creates a bittersweet sensation and is a great inclusion.
The lush harmonies heard throughout standout songs like ‘I’m Stacking Shelves (As I’m Stacking Shelves)’ compliments the overall mood of the album quite well. The song testifies to the genius existing within its Aussie punk with its optimistic tinge juxtaposing the mundane activities described within the song. With its killer bass and undeniably brilliant drum fills, this song is a great testament to all those within retail.
Staying true to their roots, the angst within this album is well and truly alive and well. My only critique is that I wish there were more. With songs ending so abruptly and quickly, the album felt somewhat rushed and as a result was lacking in power. The opener ‘Classic Pervert’ is a key example of a masterpiece ending far too abruptly.
With all instruments in ‘Classic Pervert’ blending perfectly in harmony, the overall tonality of this piece really cements the expression of the album incredibly well. Unfortunately, the nature of this thirty-six-second track is far too abrupt and leaves listeners stunted mid-groove. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time this happens throughout Hi-Vis High Tea, which is a shame. The lack of time afforded to great songs like ‘Sneeze Guard’ and ‘The Criminal’s Airline’ completely undercuts the band’s efforts.
When compared to the slightly more lengthy ‘Everyone I Know Mental Problems,’ we see just how incredible their songs can be once fully realised. This song’s ability to utilise all that is great about the punk genre and incorporate it in a way that doesn’t feel contrived or derivative is great. ‘Everyone I Know Has Mental Problems’ shows Frenzal Rhomb at their best.
Closing with ‘Food Court’, we see a different side of Frenzal Rhomb. With a more spacious sound rich with reverb, the band demonstrate their maturity through subversion and versatility. This closer may surprise some expecting songs that match the overall tone of the whole album, and for that, Frenzal Rhomb’s bold move should be commended. Because of that boldness and sincerity, Hi-Vis High Tea is perfect to listen while travelling, ideal for jamming and definitely something worth holding on to.
Hi-Vis High Tea is due for release on the 26th of May via Caroline Australia Records.