Purple Skies, Toxic River
15 Track, LP (2013, Dream Damage)
Related: TV Colours.
When Assassins 88 disbanded with nothing more than a status update in April last year, they became yet another Canberra band to have a brilliant yet short career. For a brief moment, it actually made me wish I lived in the nation’s capital so I could have seen their outrageous live show more often. After TV Colours’ debut album was constantly delayed, I was convinced that they too would enter an early retirement, leaving behind a legacy of just over five minutes.
But it is rather apt that this album was six years in the making; the exact time it takes a person to make it through high school. That period where plenty of naïve 12-year-olds are transformed into pessimistic young adults eager to escape the wasteland that surrounds them; the same place they were once proud to call their neighbourhood. This album explores the dichotomy of high school: enjoying the most carefree and fun-filled years of your life while simultaneously coping with a sense of oppression and social isolation.
The album opens with two high-energy tracks that celebrate the reckless abandon of youth. “Let’s hit the fucking freeway!” Bobby Kill screams on ‘The Neighbourhood’, while ‘Lost Highway’ consists of anguished cries that are largely incoherent. This fervent desire to escape is contrasted with later tracks ‘The City’ and ‘Livin’ After Midnight’, which are both lonely soundscapes of passing conversations and checkout beeps, showing that the teenage dream is often at odds with the reality of shitty part-time jobs and underage drinking in parks.
Much of Kill’s lyrics are filled with standard teenage angst, like “I don’t wanna go to school!” on ‘Run With the Creeps’ and the repeated shouts of “I just don’t care anymore!” on ‘City Nights’. On paper it can come across like a mild temper tantrum from a bratty kid, but delivered with passion and intensity it illustrates the emotional volatility of adolescence.
The album perfectly matches the general outlook of the 2k13 youth by pining for past decades while simultaneously looking toward the promise of the future; anything that gives them an escape from the present. On ‘Beverly’, the nostalgic snippet of a changing cassette precedes airy synths that wouldn’t seem out of place in a science-fiction movie soundtrack.
Perhaps the greatest contradiction on display is that an album about the teenage years can exhibit such maturity. The product of six years’ hard work is an excellent debut album that’s far more than just a collection of songs; it is a self-assured record and one of the year’s best.
by Mitchell Judge