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Passion is a rare commodity in modern music.
Despite it being easier now than at any time in history to record and release music and transform fairly basic compositions into sweeping musical statements with digital effects and tricks, what remains impossible to synthetically reproduce is the emotion and rawness that is released from a passionate performance.
Having interviewed bands for years, one of the most common problems artists continually share they have when entering the studio is recreating the energy and emotion of a live show and then pressing it to wax in a way that they feel represents reality.
So when a record arrives that brandishes the power and the joy that comes with delivering on the promises of a concert, or the emotions attached to the lyrics and subject matter of the songwriting, you can’t help but stand up and pay attention.
On Luca Brasi’s third LP If This Is All We’re Going To Be, it becomes apparent from the outset that they have had no issue capturing that rare element in buckets. Having spent the previous half a decade thundering around the country playing gig after gig to thousands of punters, and releasing two equally impressive earlier records, it all feels like the hard work for which they have earned an esteemed reputation as one of the premiere acts of the powerhouse Melbourne punk scene – despite being Tassie originals – has been concentrated, bottled and drip fed into this brilliant new chapter of their creative career.
From opener and recent triple j favourite Aeroplane (arguably their greatest song to date alongside Borders & State Lines) they set the tone for a 10 track ride that changes gears and pace as it progresses, but never loses that sense of total conviction in its delivery.
Say It Back follows and is emblematic of the heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting across the album that I want to resist tagging as emo, but admittedly has a confessional tone heavily associated with the sub genre. But who gives a shit about labels when the punchy Spin And Collapse comes right behind it, and delivers anthemic choruses designed to be screamed from tangled mosh pits.
Treading Water offers a darker, brooding turn, with haunting backing vocals and a crushing bassline that presses down on you like the weight of the world, while Cascade Blues recalls Trans Atlantacism era Deathcab For Cutie, and highlights the excellent production that flows across the album as a whole.
Drop Out juxtaposes bare bones moments with heaving rock club chaos, Overwhelmed_ Ill Prepared recalls Blink 182 with all their brilliance and minus the dick jokes, and Man, This Is Living could have been ripped from one of the very best set-lists from peak 1999 Bodyjar.
Anything Near Conviction presents a moment of surprising intimacy, despite the guitars staying plugged in (kudos for not chucking in a cliched acoustic track for the sake of it boys), while Count Me Out closes out the album with a hint of noise rock experimentation that feeds into the soundtrack of late night drive home under orange streetlights after just having your heart shattered.
At times I can’t help but feel like I’m stepping into a time machine when I listen to Luca Brasi. Their emphatic, melodic compositions and the honesty of their approach feels to me like it flows with the spirit of an era in Australia when punk rock ruled the airwaves, thanks to the likes of Jebediah’s Of Someday Shambles, Frenzal Rhomb’s A Man’s Not A Camel, or the aforementioned Bodyjar’s How It Works – all releases that embodied that same passion and intensity that sets If This Is All We’re Going To Be apart from much of the contemporary music of today.
But despite it making me yearn for the past, this album also excites me as to what it represents for the future.
It’s already achieved the coveted trophy of being a triple j feature album, and looks set to take the four-piece places even they never thought they’d achieve. It was the power of hard work that got them there, but it will be the passion that will continue to push them and their music forward.