There are handful of Australian Crawl songs that have been radio and pub staples my entire life. But as I started to put my thoughts together to write this review, I realised that I have no idea how to classify this band., They’re kind of rock, but there’s always a pop tinge to it, without being anything close to pop rock. There are reggae and ska influences, but the direction is always too straight forward to make them either of those. There a straight forward rock line up as far as instrumentation goes, but I think there are hints of post punk and new wave in some of the arrangements. To get a grasp on these perennial Oz rock stalwarts, I listened to The Boys Light Up.
The opening pair of My Coffee’s Gone Cold and Man Crazy are as indefinable, while being totally middle of the road, as my intro described the band in general. While an unexpected Caribbean flavour does nothing to add any flavour to the totally vanilla Way I’ve Been.
Chinese Easily is the most easily definable and song so far on The Boys Light Up with its piano driven, muted guitar, old fashioned rock and roll. And for all of its by the numbers ingredients, it’s the best song in these early stages of the record. Downhearted also benefits from its strict adherence to all of the 80s power ballad rules. It might not be anything original or ground breaking, but it’s still effective.
The 80s vintage is on full display in a different way with the over produced treatment given to Beautiful People. There’s a rock guitar at its heart, but the 80s studio polish does everything it can to strip the song of any rock guitar edge. It’s a polish that’s reigned in on Indisposed, and the song benefits from it immensely. The song is simpler and more stripped back in its arrangement, and the production sound matches that. Well, it’s still slick as shit, but compared to Beautiful People, it’s like a four track demo recorded in someone’s garage.
I’d keep writing about individual songs, but the thing about Australian Crawl and The Boys Light Up is, pick any three tracks at random, and you’ll have a pretty solid idea of everything this album has to offer. It’s not amazing, it’s not terrible. Like Derek Smalls from This is Spinal Tap, it’s the warm water in between fire and ice. Passable at best, underwhelming at worst… Turns out, it’s hard to get worked up either way about Aussie Crawl.