From moody folk-guitar group to ?medieval power trio,? things have definitely changed for Bushwalking. Composing members of Kes, Fabulous Diamonds and Songs with a combined temperament that can be filed under ?difficult and evasive? in interviews (or [ones](/articles/4499384) with [me](http://thequietus.com/articles/09299-bushwalking-interview-first-time), at least), the Melbourne/Sydney trio have evolved from bassist Ela Stiles? solo project-become-a-band to a tight three-piece. You can certainly see a shift in sound and attitude from last year’s [First Time](/releases/2001072)* to this one’s *No Enter.
The debut, which had Stiles carrying most of the songwriting weight, was a thinly veiled ?fuck you? to conceptualisation, arseholes and the world; a subtle irony obfuscating its bitter intent with a wistful delivery, composed around absurd song titles like ?Depression (No Baby)? and ?Visual Jam Doughnut?. This time around the sense of humour remains, but less in names sounding like something from a crude British comedy and more in Karl Scullin’s famously jerky guitar lines, which really only surfaced once or twice in First Time*. Now they nervously bounce all over the place, as the surprisingly candid lyrics of *No Enter opener ?No Men? sees Nisa Venerosa sing, ?All the ones that I want/They don’t want me that way? to the heavy trek of her own typically minimal percussion.
?Grey Area? expresses its own frustration at misread feelings and obstinacy through Scullin’s angsty off-notes and the bitter snark of a harmonised ?I can’t find a man? before dropping to a decisive ?that I know.? It’s unclear what that’s supposed to mean exactly, but Bushwalking aren’t exactly known for being unambiguous and a title like ?Neetneves Eno? (which is just as bewildering when read backwards) does nothing to enlighten its listener on the intention of the battered and wordless instrumental interlude beyond inducing an acute sense of anxiety. Meanwhile, ?Land Lols? gives no indication of what its dark bass drive is getting at except that maybe it was inspired by some kind of hopeless, philandering loser.
But again, keeping things explicit has clearly never been part of the Bushwalking deal. In fact, if one thing has stayed consistent between albums beyond the cover art, it’s their ability to frustrate expectation, forcing you to give up on the thinking to allow for the feeling. That’s particularly true with No Enter, where a new confidence in the band as a single unit yields dazzling results – from the track listing’s daringly diverse compositional thrust to the effortless dual harmonies between Stiles and Venerosa, bested only when Scullin adds a rare and squeaky third vocal to the brisk ebb of ?Treat Yourself? in what is one of the most gratifying breakdowns I’ve heard this year.
There’s much to draw from, lash out against and take hold of in this album, if not the vague F. Scott Fitzgerald reference of ?Green Light? – a song that never ceases to catch me offguard when Stiles and Venerosa add ?come in my eye? – then the endless listing of words that rhyme with ?low? in ?High Hogs?. By now it should be apparent that I could expound on what is dynamic, thought-provoking and enjoyable about No Enter indefinitely, but that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting as actually listening to it.