Album review: School Damage

School Damage - School Damage (Chapter Music)

School Damage.

School Damage.

YOU COULD be forgiven for thinking this was a lost album, recorded sometime between 1978 and 1981, but only issued this year, given that it sounds as if the world post-1981 (or C86 at a stretch ) had not existed.

But no, this a 2017 debut by Melbourne quartet School Damage, whose pure lo-fi post punk, proto-indie pop sound will appeal to anyone with Stranglers, Altered Images, Vaselines, Young Marble Giants - or any array of the more left-field pop side of post-punk - records in their collection. But is this just about four Aussies wishing they'd been young at another time?

Opener 'No Ideas Left' deliberately pre-empts the critics, pointing out it is increasingly hard to re-invent the wheel. For anything which appears new, there is always some music nerd who can point out somebody who did it before. True, but, as Francis Fukuyama knows only too well, you declare the end of history at your peril.

While School Damage do not re-invent the wheel, their post-punk sound - all milky keyboards, songs led by bass-riffs instead of guitars, quirky lyrics, and a strong pop sensibility - is where they have come from and is a platform which has allowed them to assemble a fine collection of songs with plenty of irresistible pop hooks ('Particles' ), a sense of grit and melody ('Tall Poppies' ), and moments of emotion and poignancy ('It's Not Goodbye', 'Cloudy Skies' ).

It shows the post-punk era remains a mine whose excavation pays off for young musicians, and this is an album many indie fans will be hard pressed not to like.



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