Australian garage rockers Eddy Current Suppression Ring return after nine years with a surprise album, but the excitement doesn't last too long.
All In Good Time
Eddy Current Suppression Ring
13 December 2019
Back in 2007, Australia's Eddy Current Suppression Ring released one of the better rock albums of the 2000s. It took only 24 hours to write the award-winning Primary Colours, but it started a new golden era for rock bands from Down Under. The sound featuring a post-punk guitar by Mikey Young and the frantic but incisive voice and stage presence of Brendan Huntley shined for a couple of years and then went quiet. Until last December, when suddenly a new track appeared online, followed by surprise new album released by John Dwyer's Castle Face Records.
In an era with continuous new music content on social media and streaming platforms, releasing an album without promotion is a modern marketing strategy. The music industry discovered the value of a surprise record and its power to concentrate and spark the social buzz in a saturated musical landscape. When it comes to Eddy Current Suppression Ring, however, there is no marketing master plan. The band have always maintained a low profile, even though their songs appeared in commercial spots. The story behind the making of All in Good Time is simple: the band started jamming again, came up with a bunch of songs, and asked Dwyer to release them, specifically with no promotion. If that strengthens the narrative of the band, the music outcome carries a weakness.
From the first listen to the single "Our Quiet Whisper", it's clear that the boys are back. Lyricist Huntley sings a wise call to stand up in our dark times "Action speaks louder / than anything we got to fear / Practice, practice what you preach / Action speaks louder." At the same time, Young plays his choppy guitar inspired by the Wire and Gang of Four, and the rhythmic section delivers a linear pattern. Eddy Current Suppression Ring's magic has always been the mix of the honest, even if almost didactic, lyrics about mundane life with a straight yet amazing sound, full of surprising sonic triggers. A hint of synth now, a joyful keyboard then. That's what makes Eddy Current Suppression Ring so appealing, but keeping to listening All in Good Time, the excitement vanishes fast.
The overall sound is now more cohesive and relaxed to the point of being harmless, while Huntley's lyrics aren't his best. Tracks like "Medieval Wall", a song about our scared and controlled lives, prove it well. "Oh, how the times have changed / The wall is being rearranged / All Around You / Paranoia and anger / Is growing each and every year / All around you." There is no crescendo, and without the punk punch, it lacks energy. No doubt we are listening to a jam session but, since they decide to release it, we can't help but wonder where they want to take us.
There is a light, anyway, towards the end. The superb "Like a Comet" outshines the other songs with a convincing guitar hook and passionate singing. Fans will be thrilled for their comeback, but I have the feeling that if Eddy Current Suppression Ring sound so inspired in all the songs, we would have another masterpiece. Unfortunately, we haven't.