MUSIC REVIEW | Screamfeeder – Home Age (1999)


By 1999, Screamfeeder’s unfairly short dalliance with high rotation radio airplay was already a year or two behind them. Triple J embraced them for a few singles, but by the turn of the century, that was all over. Now, close to 20 years after that brief moment of heavy exposure (heavy by alternative Brisbane band standards, anyway), they’re still out there doing their thing. And when I get to see them live every few years, Screamfeeder never disappoints. So I thought it was time I gave some of those not so salad days a listen, with Home Age.

Immediately, Walls Come Tumbling Down sounds like Screamfeeder had matured a little. And by that I mean, they sound a little older, a little less concerned with high energy and more concerned with melody. The la la la intro of So Sad About Us supports that theory. This is still the same band who made Kitten Licks, but there’s something more subdued about them here.

Three tracks in, and The Word is No! means Home Age already has more to offer in the way of Kellie Lloyd vocals than all of Kitten Licks. Her feminine sound brings an unavoidable increase in the pop that works amongst the jangled guitars and rock drums. This song also proves that Tim Steward knows when to stand back and let Lloyd take the spotlight. His backing vocals do everything to fill out songs like this and Boys Keep Swinging, while never getting in the way.

Then there’s Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, a dead set (in the fair dinkum department) gentle 50s rock ballad that could have been on the soundtrack to Grease 2. If you know me, you know that that’s a pretty high compliment.

Listening to Home Age, I have to think the song writing of Screamfeeder had become a lot more collaborative between Steward and Lloyd in the years since Kitten Licks. While Lloyd supplied plenty of great backing vocals on that album, her turns front and centre were rarities. Here, she might be the focus of a solid half of the album.

Songs like Keep Hanging On really rely hard on a back and forth, 50/50 vocals dynamic where Steward and Lloyd are both on lead vocal duties for the entirety of the song. That too was a weird little curiosity on Kitten Licks with songs like Dart. Songs like the raucous Keep anging ON, and the piano based of tendersness of Hanging On, and the piano based tenderness of The Kind of Carrot Flowers show that by the time of Home Age, they’d really perfected that approach.

To me, Home Age is the perfect “next album” to follow something as career defining as Kitten Licks. I know “career defining” might sound a little grandiose when talking about a band you may have never heard of, but it’s all relative. Kitten Licks is the album that brought them to my attention back in the day. Listing to Home Age now, it’s the kind of album that builds on its predecessor’s strengths, but doesn’t rest on them. You can hear the band growing and the growth is good.   Does any of that mean a thing considering the age of this album? Who knows. All I’m saying is, it’s good. Really good.


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