Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Album Review: Wisdom Machine by The Bennies

If you haven't heard Australian punk rockers The Bennies latest album Wisdom Machine I question what have you been doing with the last few months? I absolutely loved their previous two efforts - Rainbows in Space and Heavy Disco and was completely blown away by Wisdom Machine. It's taken me far too long to get round to reviewing it, partly because I slack, partly because my record still hasn't turned up! Without further adieu I present - Wisdom Machine.

The opening track on Wisdom Machine is Heavy Reggae. Heavy Reggae begins with a bit of a feedback before some brass and then some guitars take us into the song. Bass player Craig takes control of the lead vocals, the tempo is slow and the melody of the song really gets you grooving. Heavy Reggae feels just as much as an introduction to the album as it does an actual song. Things really get moving the next song - Party Machine. Instantly the tempo of the song is upped and front man Anty fast paced vocals blow through the opening verse and Craig again takes the chorus. The song is exactly what it says on the tin - a great big party. It'll have you losing your mind in no time at all. The Bennies like to use a sound machine for many of their songs and use it to fantastic effect on this song. It's a track that is perfectly at home in a club scene as it is in the punk scene. It's just good times all round. Maybe We Could Get High is the first song on the album where The Bennies are very open about their love of drugs. Before we go any further I want to add that I do not promote doing nor love drugs - but each to their own. Lyrical content aside this is another fast paced, fun time. It's a full speed anthem that really gets the listener worked up. There is also some great guest vocals from Jay Whalley, lead singer of legendary Australian punk rockers Frenzal Rhomb.

On the fourth track Legalise (But Don't Tax) The Bennies revert back to the reggae sound. Anty and Craig share vocals again, something they do more on Wisdom Machine than they have on previous efforts. It adds a fantastic new element to their sound. The chorus is does an incredible job of making you sing-a-long even if you don't necessarily agree with the sentiment. This is undeniably a summer anthem! I also love the nod to Operation Ivy with the line "Unity Unity You've Heard It All Before." I just can't help but smile when listening to this song. Detroit Rock Ciggies is one of many highlights on Wisdom Machine. This faced paced ska punk number is everything you want in a song of this genre. It gets you skanking, it gets lodged in your head, and it makes you smile. The riff that guitarist Jules plays at the beginning of the song is superb, as soon as you hear it you know exactly what song is coming and will get you excited straight away. Anty takes vocals duties for the most part aside from Craig's sweeter, softer vocals taking centre stage for a fun breakdown. Detroit Rock Ciggies is a song that really highlights the band's exceptional ability as musicians, especially Jules who has a fantastic guitar solo during the track. Party Till I Die (Or Die Trying) opens with a bit of a old school horror film theme to it complete with a ghoulish laugh before the song really gets going with some great gang vocals. Hooray for gang vocals! A very striking way to start the song. The song is about partying as hard as you can and then trying to take it even further. Unlike the other songs about partying this song has a much heavier and darker tone to it musically but is still a fantastic time. Great to hear Jules take lead vocals as well.

Burnout City goes back to the summer reggae vibes. The song goes along nicely with Anty taking the verse with some fast paced almost rap style vocals before Craig leads the chorus. It's a joyous, danceable number which features a nice surprise towards the end of the song. It finishes with more gang vocals (almost chanting) with the song switching to a style that makes me think of a big festival crowd singing along with the band. Another massive highlight on the album. Corruption has a very dark introduction, something you would expect from your favourite metal band. It's a slow and deliberate start broken up only by some massive screams from Anty before the song morphs into a slow moving reggae song. It feels like Anty is telling story with his vocal delivery. It's a story about corrupt powers that are taking control of a city. The song builds towards a massive guitar led finale that you will need to turn your speakers up to eleven to really appreciate it's brilliance. This is followed up by a twenty second song named West Memphis Three Paper which feels kind of like a jingle as much as it does a song. The penultimate song on Wisdom Machine is Turning Around and is another piece of absolute brilliance. Beginning with some 80s style synths the song switches from reggae during the verse to pop punk during the chorus effortlessly, never really letting the listener know what's happening next. The track also features more of a shouty punk verse and a drum led breakdown before one final massive chorus complete with some delightful harmonies. The album is concluded with the track O Brother, Where Art Thou. Starting out slowly with an acoustic guitar, the song is softer. It's a song about feeling let down by your brother when he begins to go astray and letting the people close to him down. Of course, as you would expect from The Bennies things don't stay slow for long. After a verse and a chorus the tempo is upped and we are treated to big punk rock song. This song is a definite grower and has become one of my favourite songs on Wisdom Machine.

Wisdom Machine is just a fantastic album from start to finish. I think The Bennies are one of the most unique bands on the planet, it's almost impossible to pigeon hole them into a specific genre of music as they squeeze so many different styles into their music. If you like music you'll love The Bennies and Wisdom Machine.

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