Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Album Review: Happy Place by Nerdlinger

I first became aware of Australian punk rock band Nerdlinger following the release of their mini album Trend Setter back in 2015. The mini album was nine songs of superb melodic and skate punk rock with the track Twenty Five being a particular stand out. Now the four piece have a brand new fourteen song album out. Titled Happy Place and released by Pee Records and Disconnect Disconnect Records I was that excited to hear it I pre-ordered the vinyl before even hearing a song from it, something I never do! Let's see if it lives up to my excitement.

The opening track is titled 30 Seconds Of Satisfaction. Like the title suggests the song is only thirty seconds long and serves as an intro to Happy Place. It made me think of a TV theme tune opposed a more traditional piece of intro music for an album and I highly enjoyed it. The album then begins properly with the song Contagious. It's one and a half minutes of seriously energetic skate punk. It goes along at a fantastic tempo and has me wanting to scream along immediately. There is a nostalgic feel to the song, it reminds me of the skate punk of my youth whilst also feeling incredibly current. Can Yu Forgive Me is the title of the following song and the opening guitars quickly let me know this is going to be another song of high energy goodness. Nerdlinger seem to have a skill in building anticipation in their intros for the vocals. When those vocals do come in you're about ready to explode into the song. I love this. You would think with a title like The Ballad Of Rod Lightning, the fourth track would be a little bit slower. Well at times it is a bit ballad-like but for the most part Nerdlinger seem to have picked up the pace even more. I'm seriously impressed and amazed they can sing this fast. This track was released as a single as a bit of a teaser before Happy Place's announcement and put some real buzz and excitement behind the album – it's a superb song.

Sails starts slowly with an almost folky/country style opening before launching into the song properly. On Sails, Nerdlinger show off a bit more variety as they do slow things down in sections before speeding back up. It's as if somebody in the good ship Nerdlinger has the button for hyper speed and loves to punch it whenever he sees fit. This is completely fine by me. The track is about living your life to the fullest and not worrying about the consequences. Underrated does finally slow things down and gives you chance to get your breath back. This slower, mid-tempo pace doesn't affect my enjoyment of Happy Place in the slightest. It is quite welcome – at my age you can't keep going at 100mph with every song. The slower pace gives the track a retrospective feeling as a song is sung about trying to work out who you are. As I listen to the song, more and more I'm reminded of legendary skate punks No Use For A Name, especially when the vocals become more passionate and urgent towards the end of the track. On my first listen of Happy Place the seventh song, Fat Gav, really stood out to me. It begins as a fast paced and catchy skate punk song with a chorus you'll be singing along with ever so quickly. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Nerdlinger at this point of the album and then, out of absolutely nowhere, we get some horns?! I was not expecting this but it put the biggest smile on my face.

The seventh song on Happy Place is named Sunny Days. This song starts in a slow and sombre fashion and even has what sounds like a string section adding an extra layer to the beginning of the song. Of course it's not long until we launch into a more hard hitting punk sound with Michael Cannings' drumming in particular standing out. This is a song of two halves with the first half really tugging on your heart strings and the second filling you with a more powerful form of emotion. German Wings is another big highlight of Happy Place. It looks at the mental health of a pilot and whether they are in the right state of mind to do their job and make sure their passengers get to their destination safely. It's a take on the subject of mental health that I've not really heard before in song and it has got me thinking. Musically it's super fast, super catchy and super fun despite the darkness of the topic. The tenth song on the album is I've Taken Five. It opens with a more melodic and even technical guitar intro. Vocally there seems to be a bit more intensity in the way the lyrics are delivered. This was great. One of the things that attracted me to Twenty Five from Trend Setter was the intense and urgent vocals. This intensity really hits fever pitch in the final verse of I've Taken Five and you can't help but be carried away with the song. They care so much it's making me care.

Miyajima Cockroaches is a political song about all the unnecessary death that happens due to war. The topic of the track is a hard hitting one and the song follows suit in its delivery. Michael Cannings delivers an unrelenting piece of drumming throughout the song that really adds to the overall feel of Miyajima Cockroaches. There is also a fantastic guitar solo towards the end of the track that seriously impressed me. Song Of The Damned is without any doubt the most unique sounding song on Happy Place as we see the surprise inclusion of an accordion from Ess-Em as well as some returning horns. The track is more of a bouncy and danceable tune compared to most of the other tracks on the album. There is a joyful sound to the song despite it being about wanting a do-over in your life. The chorus of the track is a massive ear-worm that you'll be singing for days. The penultimate track is a song about drinking milk, it's called Milk. Full disclaimer: I absolutely hate milk, it tastes horrible and I freak out just a tiny bit if milk ever touches my skin. It's a bit of a weird phobia. Nerdlinger, if you're reading this, you're more than welcome to my share of the world's milk. Please drink all of the milk up so it never has to be near me ever again. Thanks in advance. The fourteenth and final song on Happy Place is titled Superficial. The song starts in a slow and retrospective manner with Nerdlinger asking questions about what happens when you lose yourself. Soon enough the song picks up pace and turns into a positive track about being proud to be who you are and not living a false life. This message is the perfect way to finish such a good album.

Nerdlinger's Happy Place is definitely one of the best skate punk albums I've heard all year. It's full of fast and energetic skate punk. There are so many moments whilst listening where I just thought "Yes! I love this." This is the skate punk I really love. Well done Nerdlinger, you smashed this album.

Seriously, you're welcome to all of the milk.

Stream and download Happy Place here:

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This review was written by Colin Clark.

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