It was back in April 2016 that The Goon Sax, comprising Louis Foster, James Harrison and Riley Jones released their debut album Up To Anything. It was a charming and engaging effort, musically channelling the likes of The Modern Lovers, Orange Juice and yes, The Go-Betweens with whom Louis’s father had found fame. It has to be said that the lyrics were a tad on the rudimentary side, but then again they were the product of a trio whose average age was just 17 and not everyone at that period in their life can be a Roddy Frame or an Alex Turner.
It cannot be denied that much of the early interest in the band for many, myself included was through the Go-Betweens connection – and to think that I used to slate folk for being interested in the career of Sean Lennon just because they hoped some of his father’s talent had been passed on through the genes. But, as I said, the debut album charmed me and I was really pleased to discover that the trio could more than hold their own in the live setting, as I mentioned on this little corner of t’internet in June 2017.
The sophomore album, We’re Not Talking, was released in September 2018 and it’s one that I’ve played a lot over the past few months. I’m delighted to offer the opinion that the band have developed very nicely and given us another charming and engaging album which surpasses the quality of the debut for all sorts of reasons, not least that Riley Jones, for the first time, takes her turn alongside the boys on lead vocals, sounding in many places like Juliana Hatfield.
The production is crisper and more polished, thanks in part to the involvement of two members of Architecture in Helsinki, and the playing and singing seems far more confident and less hesitant than before. I say singing, but quite a lot of the vocal, certainly when James Harrison is involved, is of the spoken/singing style (think of an Aussie accented Jonathan Richman) which makes for a very fine contrast and allows the album to flow in unexpected directions.
The band’s sound has also developed to include keyboards and there’s even the sporadic use of strings and trumpet to add further depth to a number of the songs, not least the jaunty opener which is deserving of the term ‘indie classic’:-
Not all of the other eleven songs on the album are as immediately catchy and danceable but this is actually a strength when it comes to repeated listens, as is the fact that the three of them have such different but complementary approaches to singing leading to harmonies which border on perfection.
The highlight of the album, however, comes on the penultimate track….one which always makes me smile in the realisation that the sounds of my own youth in the early 80s won’t ever go completely out of fashion
mp3 : The Goon Sax – Get Out
The Goon Sax have come a long way in a short period and it’s quite frightening to think that they are not yet out of their teens. Part of the attraction thus far has been that they sound so innocent and sincere, with cynicism being a trait that is lacking, but as they mature and develop as individuals, and as a recording and performing band, it will be fascinating to see what comes next. Hopefully, it will be more of the same – perhaps the onset of their 20s will lead to a genuinely classic album which will stand the test of time. Time will tell, but on the basis of what they’ve given us so far, it’s a reasonable bet that they will.