Following our feature on cult L.A. lo-fi scuzz rockers Goon, we’re taking a look at The Smackwave EP from label mate Spike Fuck. If the name shocks you then you should probably click away now because the record is riddled with candid depictions of drug use. It’s not glorified but it’s not sanitised either.
Photo credit: Milly Cope
Junkie Logic is a case in point. The variously sung, spoken, spit and stuttered testament of falling in and out of addiction pulls no punches, and even Claudia Jones’ pretty harmony on the chorus can’t hide the trauma within: “I got one/I got two/I got three friends that died from constant drug use.”
Relative to incredible lows of severe weight loss, amputation and pain, the tenuous positives count as wins: “I guess I’m kind of pretty and at least I’m not dead.” The determination to make it work back home in Melbourne is palpable, and there’s a goal to focus on within the pathos of “I know heaven won’t want me ’til I’m clean.”
Guts ramps up the sense of modern lounge music with more mothering imagery, stressing the need for human connection and fear of loneliness. It’s a six minute memory of a lover being a temporary port in a storm one night by the beach, even though it didn’t last: “we just go on leading our separate lives/together forever/at least that’s what they say/just walk away.”
Tomorrow We Get Healthy nods to the ’80s new wave musically, though the downbeat vocal undercuts any optimistic tones. The lyrics interrogate the duality and duplicity of life as an addict: “there’s another person in me/and I know they’re not as kind/and they’ll take all of your money/and they’ll waste all of your time/but they wear my clothes/and they have my eyes.”
3:30 Psychosis has another sweet harmony lift, this time from Elyse Beer. What starts out sounding like a tender ballad with a chance that things might get better really takes a turn for the worse instead: “So I left my heart at the graveyard/’cause I’m doing penance for my sins/Right now the angels clawing at my skin.”
Body By Crystal is the most upbeat sounding song on the record, so of course the lyrics undercut that: “I had a dream that things were going to get better/yeah, but in my life I found they only got worse…I lost myself in heroin.”
Apart from the obvious drug allusion, the ‘smackwave’ in the EP’s title refers to Spike Fuck’s genre: “a blend of late-80s new wave and late-70s post-punk, with a dash of country music/singer-songwriter sensibilities delivered in Las Vegas Ballroom karaoke vocal style.”
This record isn’t for everyone; it’s not pretty and it’s not clean, but it is real. It shines a light in dark places and humanises through visceral and emotional honesty. It bears repeating.
The Smackwave EP is out now on vinyl and digital via Partisan Records.
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