Imperial Leather Heavy Breathing EP
The first twenty seconds of this EP—this Melbourne act’s second following their 2020 self-released debut—sets you up for quite a rug pull. You’re presented with a minimal drums, bass, and keys arrangement accompanied by icy cool start/stop talk-sung vocals, and just as you’re settling in for maybe a “Chaise Longue”-type number—yank!—the song shifts into a higher gear and the muscle car on the record’s cover starts to make sense; you’re actually on your way to party rock city! Some Nuggets-esque guitars kick in, the keyboard that had up until this point merely been pecked at morphs into a sci-fi frat rock organ, and the vocalist slides into a Kathleen Hanna/Beth Ditto full-throated vibrato. It’s like the mashup of “Planet Claire” and “96 Tears” you never knew you wanted until now. “Lewis Lee” and “Smile Now, Cry Later” are still bouncy organ-driven numbers, but they’re closer to post-punk or new wave—the former reminds me a lot of fellow Melbournians TERRY, and the later features guitar melodies that are approaching CURE-like. But the EP saves the best for last—”Creep Stain” manages to split the difference between the rockin’ opener and the cooler tracks that follow, and the end result just sounds like really good punk with an excellent shout-along chorus. Real cool record!