The Bakelite Age have been prescribing their version of lo-fi garage rock since 2003, through various line-up changes and five full length releases. Flytrap, the group’s most recent doctrine, is a wild, psychedelic, low-down-dirty but also very catchy, trip through front-man Link ‘Meanie’ McLennan’s fevered visions of a post-punk apocalypse.
Starting off with the deep distorted bass intro of album opener “I Can Make Fire”, the catchy vocal melody juxtaposed by chiming distorted guitars, droning backing vocals and lead lines that hover somewhere between The Stranglers and atonality, is a good indicator of what is to come.
McLennan has stated that with The Bakelite Age he was trying to capture a certain sound that had been haunting his songwriting for some time whilst playing with his perhaps more well known band, The Meanies. And whilst that band are perhaps a little easier to pin down in terms of genre, with The Bakelite Age, and particularly Flytrap, McLennan’s diverse influences and broad sonic interests come to the fore, creating an album that is both experimental and accessible in a way that The Meanies’ straight punk could never be.
On “A Childish Problem” the band sound like they are channeling early 1990s Sonic Youth and Lemonheads as the simple catchy chorus is offset by distorted guitars and some slightly odd effects, but just when they are at their poppiest, the following track “World’s Most Deadliest Creatures” brings the group back to abstract guitar work, angular rhythms and vocals that are more about attitude than melody. On the title track McLennan does his best Black Francis screams, the overdriven scuzzy guitars recalling the Pixies in their prime, while on “The Mad Monk” the band recreate the oddball noises possibly reverberating around Tony Abbot’s mind.
It is in its second half that the album seems to blend more cohesively, and it is also where many of the stronger songs are found. “Music To Die For”, is an acid freak-out set to Sex Pistols guitars and an odd, pitch-bent synth line, it’s not only an album highlight but perhaps also a blueprint for The Bakelite Age’s sound in general. The following tracks, “Flatline” and “Where the Bowie Knife if Thrown”, catch the band at their most traditional in terms of song structure and melody, and sound like classic pop songs with the perfect amount of attitude, and are also highlights, along with The Ramones tribute “Defcon 1”.
While Flytrap is not exactly a perfect record, its dirty DIY sound, and broad bordering on schizophrenic sonic palette, with ideas both traditional and experimental, make it a thoroughly enjoyable play. There are so many things going on that when they all align together, as they do on the second half of the album, it makes perfect sense, with the influences of sounds from the 1960s, 80s and 90s melding into one fantastic onslaught combining elements of The Johnnies, The Stooges and The Birthday Party along with The Fauves and Snout. This record comes highly recommended.
Originally published on The AU Review on 29/05/2011. View original article.