For a band like the Chats, whose first couple of EPs comprised comedic Australian pop-cultural references with nifty basslines and power chords slapped underneath (nothing wrong with that in and of itself, of course), there should be an implicit acceptance that no matter how great the praise and attention these releases get you—and it got them a lot of both—no joke is funny forever. You need to keep moving forward, or else what was once a unique selling point becomes a tired gag.
Presumably, after their second EP, The Chats did recognize this, and that’s why their debut album, 2020’s High Risk Behaviour, was fantastic. It established The Chats as far more than simply a joke band writing joke songs: the tracks on the album were very funny, but they were also catchy, characterful, and appreciable musically once the novelty appeal of songs about silly things wore off.
Given this subtle but meaningful evolution that carried the band from EP to LP, it’s a great shame that their follow-up, Get Fucked, feels like a bit of a step backwards. The tunes are fast and punchy, but it doesn’t take long (like, really not long, considering the band’s admirable refusal to let any songs hang around much longer than two minutes) to recognize that the Chats have settled on a formula here, and that formula is to pick a word or phrase and hammer away on their instruments for a bit whilst yelling it ad nauseam, before they draw things to
a close as abruptly as they began and move onto the next one. It doesn’t take all that long for it to start to wear a little thin.
Now, the brutal simplicity of the classic punk-rock sound that The Chats emulate is all part of its charm. Plus, it’s not like the entire record follows this trend, and even the less appealing tracks are still scorching eruptions of energy and speed (if rather more indistinguishable from one another riff-wise compared to the Chats’ past releases, owing, possibly, to the departure of the band’s former guitarist Josh Price). “Panic Attack” gives us something a little more interesting to cling onto with singer Eamon Sandwith’s rifle-like stutter of “Panic a-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak!” “Ticket Inspector,” too, is rather more characterful than most of the album (and more similar to hits from their debut like “Ross River” or “Pub Feed”).
Judging by the Chats’ apparent awareness of the need to grow as a band (especially one so concerned with humor), I idly wondered if Get Fucked might take a slightly more political direction, as hinted at by Sandwith on Christmas Eve 2019 when he released an acoustic song online titled “I Hope Scott’s House Burns Down.” The Scott in question was Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Sandwith released it in response as ironic vengeance for Morrison’s disastrous handling of Australia’s then-ongoing historically destructive wildfires (namely, buggering off on holiday whilst the country was in flames). It was hardly intellectual analysis, but that’s not what you want from a band of mulleted pissheads—it was a semi-serious middle-finger to a very serious topic, and not a million miles from the High Risk Behaviour track “The Kids Need Guns,” a jab on American gun culture.
A few songs on Get Fucked do follow this trend—“Dead on Site,” for example (“Safety officer said it’ll be fine / As long as no one says it happened on company time”), or “The Price Of Smokes,” which begins with Sandwith bemoaning the rising cost of cigarettes and ends with an entire 30 seconds of him screaming that “Those bastards in parliament ought to be hung by their necks!” Both songs make an emphatic point without sacrificing any of the Chats’ typical adolescent humor, all while couched in that no-frills punk-rock cacophony of drums and guitar that never really gets old. Now, there’s a formula that works.
Label: Bargain Bin