Reviews

Greg Boring – Heavy Syrup (LP)

greg-boring-heavy-syrupGreg Boring’s debut LP always sounds like it’s winding down. It’s in a perpetual state of ending. Featuring members of Sky Needle and Cured Pink, Heavy Syrup is interesting for what it seems to confirm about a certain stylistic inclination in Australian underground music. Like so many other active bands at present – Mad Nanna and the recent Girls Girls Girls LP come immediately to mind – Greg Boring sounds utterly exhausted.

Greg Boring is colorful, improvised, synth-driven pop music. It’s delivered in an affable enough fashion, and sometimes it even sounds cheerful. Sarah Byrne is one of the country’s best – and strangest – vocalists. Although she never deigns to audibly exert herself here (in contrast to her work with Sky Needle), her voice is preternaturally restless and expressive, even while it’s threaded with a dreary narcolepsy. On Heavy Syrup, Byrne is accompanied by low-tempo drum machines and vintage synth tones. Together, these components usually result in either an unsteady drunken sway or a last-gasp motorik pulse. The music lolls at a very slow, stumbling pace with only a couple of exceptions.

Why does it sound so slight, though, so unstable? The drum machine in particular chuffs like a dying steam train, while the synth melodies dandy about with a staunch ambivalence to timing. At the rock bottom end of the mix, ugly drones reverberate like a Casio keyboard running out of battery power. Greg Boring’s otherwise affable pop music feels like it’s coming unbolted, like the screws are slowly rattling out. Greg Boring isn’t dismantled, it’s dismantling. Greg Boring hasn’t destroyed – in the way you might say Harry Pussy or The Dead C have destroyed, for example – but rather it’s destroying. Very carefully though! It’s like they’re picking it apart.

That’s why they remind me of Mad Nanna, because despite there being very little in common in terms of instrumentation, Greg Boring sounds like pop music winding down gently. It’s like this huge structure, writhing with epochal energy, has been built to its greatest extent and now we’re taking it apart, placing the pieces back in their box but nursing them affectionately before we do, remembering what they did when they were part of something greater. Greg Boring is quite literally, deconstructed pop.

This band sounds very aware of its unimportance and inconsequentiality. They make pop music with a dogged lack of meaning, all hot wind. The neighbourhood is full and heavily gentrified at that, so let’s leave it alone. Let’s let the Greg Borings of the world have their due. Heavy Syrup sounds like a band almost giving up on their form, but in doing so, they stumble upon something rare and fascinating.

Label: Critical Heights
Release date: February 2013

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