WORDS BY NADENE BUDDEN
Discovering Cry Club in mid-2019 with the release of ‘Robert Smith’, I was instantly hooked. The punchy rhythm, heavy guitar and bass, partnered with blaring vocals and dancing melodies was everything I was looking for in music wrapped up into one song, with a little emo bow. So you could only imagine the anticipation felt for their debut release ‘God I’m Such A Mess’. And, by god, they delivered.
After releasing a string of singles since 2018, the Wollongong-born and Melbourne-based ‘Bubblegum Punk’ duo have been playing to growing crowds ever since. With noisy guitar, maximalist synths and outrageous vocals, you would wonder how a band manages to maintain the same level of energy across live performances and studio recordings. But, somehow, they do. And every moment is magical. Two years in the making, God I’m Such A Mess contains anthems upon anthems about angst, love, loss and other emo staples, all finetuned through that unique Cry Club filter.
The album opens with a bang and one of Cry Club’s standout singles ‘DFTM’.
“If you see the album cover and go like, ‘Nah dawg’ it isn’t for you” Jono said in Temporary Dreamer’s interview with Cry Club, and I’m sure this track has a similar effect. It’s anthemic and it’s explicit in its intentions, showing the anger and frustration that lies ahead between the bubblegum pop melodies and jangly synths.
‘One Step’ progresses into a calmer feel leaving behind the Vegemite-like edge of DFTM in favour of turned up synths and softer vocals. It reminds me a lot of the direction local legends Vacations took with their latest record Forever In Bloom, which is all the more welcome in my book. As the first song bandmates Heather and Jono wrote together back in 2017, the following track ‘Don’t Go’ still stands strong amongst fan favourites and newer releases that litter the track list, which is only a testament to their natural chemistry as a duo.
What’s noteworthy only three tracks in is the insane range Heather possesses as a vocalist. Tracks like ‘One Step’ and ‘Lighters’ are so light and breathy, and contrast so well with ‘Don’t Go’s’ deep, booming vocals. Each song is different from the next, with different tones from the carefree-ness of ‘Obvious’ to desperation and panic in ‘Nine of Swords’ to the aggressiveness of ‘Robert Smith’
There are many times throughout God I’m Such A Mess where the band is angry, frustrated or even manic, but ‘Lighters’ is a breath of fresh air in the track listing. “I’ve been angry before” Heather softly sings over sombre acoustic guitar chords – something rare for these self-confessed maximalists. The lyrics continue to detail a loss of hope as they confront their emotions, autotune progressively distorting the vocals and the bare layers of the song atmospheric in their emptiness. Having faced months of strict lockdown that pushed many people in Victoria to their mental and emotional capacities, Cry Club can proudly come out the other side with songs like this that allow their debut record to breathe and that brings a new level of authenticity to a band with theatricality and spectacle at their core.
That is not to say of course that the band isn’t capable of blending real emotion with their trademark sound. ‘Vertigo’ is a beautiful blend of pop, dance and rock elements that are emotive and still make you want to dance and sway, while the lyrics, epic climbing chorus and a mix of guitar and synth work together to create this swirling, dizzying feeling that is just genius. Even with bouncier tracks like ‘Quit’, which quite frankly deserves to be played across every platform in existence, honestly portraying the whimsy of new relationships with rose-tinted nihilism that is perfect for car rides, party playlists and mainstream radio play.
The level of versatility in this debut record only proves Cry Club really are chameleons at their craft, Jono managing to seamlessly create a new atmosphere for each song that Heather brilliantly attunes to. Every song is a new feeling and dances across a range of emotions – it’s like stepping into a moment in time throughout the Heather and Jono’s personal development since the formation of the band. Though they range from aggressive headbangers to leaving you in a puddle of your own tears, each track makes sense when pushed together to form this one cohesive vision of what Cry Club are: a mess. In the best way possible.
Stream God I’m Such A Mess here: