Brisbane band The Stress of Leisure are an eclectic bunch of personalities, they all come together on Faux Wave, creating a beautiful faux wave sound. Faux Wave was recorded in Melbourne with producer Paul Lee just before lockdown began. The band’s website has described Faux Wave as a more political recording than what they have offered previously. With the climate leading up to the recording of the album – both actual and political, giving off a backdrop of fire and smoke (many of the songs were written against the backdrop of the horrific fires that Australia experienced last year and the world and domestic politics that have been interesting to say the least), there is little wonder that the lyrics comment on current events.
The music on Faux Wave is pure fun, with Pascalle Burtons bouncy synths and keys, the perfect foil for Ian Pownes urgent vocals all anchored by their rhythm section Jane Elliot on bass and Jessica Moore on drums. The album starts off with Your Type of Music, a commentary on different types of music for different scenarios – with blaring keys and underpinned by a grooving bassline, this is definitely the dancefloor filler and a stand out track for me.
Song 2 is Non-Expertise Is Killing Me, a commentary on how no one seems to know how to run anything and potentially some underlying messaging on the community at large where with access to the internet, everyone is an expert. Connect to Connected is another critique on everyone being “connected” and the ensuing constant threads of conversation and opinion on every move and thing that they do posted online. Numbers Man, “I don’t want to know your numbers man” is about the “likes” and obsession with social media popularity.
Spiralling is a lovely little segue way between the more urgent sounding tracks on Faux Wave, a softer more whimsical track, this one allows you to catch your breath before hitting you with the lead single Banker on TV with its honking guitars and keys and thumping bass and drums.
No Win, No Fee and the lead single Banker on TV from the album have their lyrics aimed squarely at the corporate world, the corruption and the emphasis placed on financiers, lawyers and the corporate world to determine political policy for the everyone else.
Faux Romantic is a skewed ode to the new romantic love song and is over before you know it, and the album rounds off with Silent Partner Jam, a Pavement-esque slow burner with lamenting vocals.
The Stress of Leisure might actually be the best band that you have never heard of. They might also be the band that we need right now, with their upbeat and indie-pop music, but a distinctly serious undertone in the lyrics.
With their quirky instrumentation while using fairly standard instruments, the closest thing that I have heard recently is Party Dozen. There is that robotic krautrock inflection on many of their songs as well as that political urgency and off-kilter social commentary that they share with Devo, Pavement and Talking Heads. There is also that tongue in cheek aspect to the music and lyrics that Australian bands and in particular, Brisbane bands do so well (Custard, Regurgitator). Faux Wave is great listen from beginning to end.