20 years after their big breakthrough, Hourly Daily, You Am I make it very clear from the opening seconds of Porridge and Hotsauce that age is just a number. Because Good Advices is one of the rockiest, heaviest songs I have ever heard from Melbourne’s enduring rock dogs. With riffage approaching metal and Tim Rogers’ weathered voice giving it plenty of grunt in its own way, this is a stronger opening than I ever would have expected from a band of this vintage.
The distortion and sonic rage are replaced with an indie rock jangle on Bon Vivants, and it’s another entry a category of music that Rogers and You Am I have perfected over the decades. 60s rock and roll cockiness, with 90s indie slackerness, with pop perfect song writing and melodies to hold it all together.
Embracing the gospel that informed blues and soul, that informed rock and roll, the Hammond organ and horn section of Two Hands is a great fit for Rogers’ been there, rocked that voice. A voice that’s the complete opposite of what’s on offer on the soaring and pristinely tight Out of the Never, Now. I’ve always thought You Am I’s looseness was the band’s greatest strength. But hearing what they’re capable of when they get a little more ambitious and head into prog rock territory is kind of cool.
The ambition goes in a different, late Beatles, peak era Beach Boys direction with Beehive. Not that it necessarily sounds like either of those bands, but it does sound like a songwriter determined to push himself in a very specific, very elaborate direction. Listening to this song, I can picture Tim Rogers in a studio, making his session strings players do their 30th or 40th take, waiting to get it absolutely perfect.
As things wrap up with the stripped back, 70s punk rock simplicity of the title track, Porridge and Hotsauce is a great sign for You Am I fans that this band still has a whole lot to offer as they settle into their place as elder statesmen of Oz rock. If they can sound this alive and vibrant in the studio, things can only get even more ass kicking in their natural habitat; a hot, sweaty, smelly live music venue.