MUSIC REVIEW | Spiderbait – Spiderbait (2013)

It’s been almost a decade since Spiderbait released an album of all original material.  And the fact that they decided to self-title this comeback makes me think Spiderbait the band sees Spiderbait the album as a line in the sand, a clean start to a new era.

A key part of Spiderbait’s sound has always been Kram’s tendency to never settle for hitting the snare once if there’s any chance to belt it half a dozen times in any given bar.  And it’s that attitude that makes sure you know this is a Spiderbait album the instant the drums kick off opening track, Straight Through the Sun.

First single, It’s Beautiful is all about signature Janet English sugar sweet vocals, daring the guitars and drums to drown her out.  But these familiar Spiderbait sounds don’t mean this is a band relying on formulas that worked in the past.

Supersonic starts with acoustic guitars before moving into dreamy synths.  This certainly isn’t the Spiderbait of 1996.  And as much as a part of me would love nothing more than for them to release sound-alikes of Spanish Galleon and Ivy and the Big Apples for the rest of their lives and mine, it’s impressive to see them so willing to try different things more than 20 years into their career as band.

As much as I like the experimentation, I also appreciate the familiarity of a simple, stripped back, lo-fi tracks like Where’s the Baseline or What You Get, that could both have easily found a place on an early record like Sha-Shavaglava.

The leg stretching continues with I’m Not Your Slave, a dirty, sludgy guitar sound that I’ve never heard Whitt play before, with surprisingly effective falsetto vocals from Kram.  Then things get a little more comfortable again with The Sun Will Come Shining, almost like a sequel to Calypso in its optimistic, good time vibe.

I know a lot of my love for Spiderbait in 2013 is cemented in nostalgia for my teenage years in the 90s, but what I like most about Spiderbait the album are all the chances it takes, the experimentation, the deliberate steps away from what grabbed me when I as 15.

Plenty of bands from that era, many of them Spiderbait’s Australian contemporaries, have decided to get back together for cash grab tours in recent years years, I’ve been to more than few of those shows and really enjoyed myself.  But hearing Kram, Janet and Whitt refuse to cash in on old times and really strive for something new makes me realise how much I’ve wanted this, without ever actually knowing it.


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