Audacity – Hyper Vessels
Audacity has stood out among the West Coast garage-punk pack since the 2009 release of debut LP Power Drowning Hipster (Burger Records). That album’s blend of powerpop storytelling, West Coast skater punk bravado, and neo-garage fuzz has been built upon since, culminating with this, the band’s fourth album.
The new long-player is for the most part what you’d expect. A little predictability is okay when expectations include hyperactive singalongs such as album opener “Counting the Days.” Hyperactivity levels are so high that it’s easy to picture these guys as the real-life embodiment of Bill and Ted’s Wyld Stallyns, had those dudes fallen in love with air guitar riffs via a stack of Burger cassettes instead of hair metal.
Although “Dirty Boy,” “Hypo,” and “Fire” add to Audacity’s growing soundtrack of party jams, the most rewarding tracks break that mold and prove that these guys are not one note ponies. Take for example “Umbrellas,” a mellow ‘60s pop tune that allows the vocals and lyrics to shine. Baroque pop might’ve sounded like this if it’d followed ’70s powerpop instead of preceding it. It’s a case of young musicians growing by digging a little deeper into rock’s back pages.
Choppy, abrasive shout-along “Baseball” is reminiscent sonically of Jay Reatard, the Functional Blackouts, and other grimy forefathers of modern garage-punk. That is to say this is the type of song you’d associate more with Chicago Blackout Fests of yore than any Burger Records-sponsored shindig. Lyrically, the song finds most people too concerned about their favorite sports team to notice that the whole world is sailing up shit creek. It’s the type of social commentary early LA punks spouted when the members of Audacity were only gleams in their daddy’s eyes. “Overrated” has a similar appeal, giving the album two songs that’d suit your next punk rock DJ playlist.
Closer “Lock on the Door” is different in an unorthodox way. The groovy, pop accessible track sounds like a Weezer demo or some other ’90s relic. It’s not the best song on the album by any stretch, but it shows a willingness to embrace varied influences that leaves the sound and feel of future releases a mystery.
Overall, it’s a short album, cramming 12 songs into 32 minutes. It’s barely longer than a sitcom and has some of the same appeal. Familiar faces and guaranteed laughs get you to tune in, with hopes that the writers deviate from the norm to create something meaningful and memorable. Audacity meanders from the script just enough to keep fans on their toes, scattering punk and throwback pop between the expected party jams.