Hobart’s Naked have come forth with a full album that is both striking because of its potent dissonance and conscious thought. The concept and content of Pink Quartz is interesting for a band with avant-punk leanings but it is a remarkable album due to how everything fits together in the end.
I caught Naked live at an outdoor gig a few weeks back for the Tenth Court Festival. It was a show in the back parking lot of 4ZZZ and it was a typical hot Brisbane day, people were standing listlessly in between bands but were attentive when each set kicked off. After a few performances from local bands, Naked set up to the plate and ripped into a set of delirious, tilted punk – abrasive yet insightful, intelligent yet intentionally haphazard its execution. The first song of the set was a tune called ‘Massive Cock’, a song that kicked off with a processed beat and a growling riff, before dialling up the intensity with coiled squeals of guitar and the tortured howls of vocalist Kieran Sullivan.
“I got a massive cock and I want it chained right down, carved into an orchid or a jasmine vine / I got a massive cock and I want it split in half, one side to the barbecue and the other to the dogs.”
After the song had finished, Kieran informed the assembled crowd that ‘Massive Cock’ was not song bragging about his impressive member, but was actually a song about men and how a lot of them were shit. This matter-of-fact confession was the first instance where I noticed that Naked was not your typical punk band, at least where song concepts were concerned.
Naked recently released its new full-length record, Pink Quartz, through Brisbane-based label Tenth Court – an organisation that has made its name by pushing forth intense, sardonic and aurally bristly rock. Naked might be the label’s most eccentric-sounding group thus far, and Pink Quartz does a commendable effort communicating the band’s deep resentment towards societal structures and derision towards the established status-quo. By opening proceedings with a wish for a metaphorical castration due to the abhorrent nature inherent in his own gender, Kieran and his fellow bandmates (Robert Fisher and Jordan Marson) have wisely employed the track to pave the way for further insightful rhapsody. Strong sentiments such as the one in ‘Massive Cock’ are littered throughout the album, coupled with abrasive percussion samples, guitar thrash and an outpouring of emotion through vocal chords pushed to the limit.
Late last year I wrote about lead single ‘Sprinters of the World Unite’, but didn’t spend much time talking about what I gathered the song meant. As a glance it speaks to me of troubled youths, crime and ineffectual rehabilitation. I could be way off base, and would honestly love to hear other interpretations. I also wrote about ‘Critical Half-Arsed’ over on Who The Hell, a jarring and instantly captivating song that touches on tragedy or a terrible accident. If these two singles are any indication, Naked weren’t fucking around with how they wanted to portray Pink Quartz in the early stages – rough, brutal, abrasive but also poignant and human.
I feel like the majority of reviews of Pink Quartz have glossed over the intelligence spread throughout, or at least the dark cerebral tendencies lacing the distorted art-punk sound. A few reviews latch onto tried and true tropes – lumping the band in with stereotypical Australian larrikinism and citing typical angst-fuelled behaviour. While Naked is guilty of writing a few songs that seem to align with the suburban malaise-driven sounds of other Australian bands, I get an impression that the group is far more subversive in its concepts and mannerisms. ‘Kit Home’ looks at gentrification and the hoarding of property increasing the cost of living, songs such as ‘Blepharitis’ and ‘Think About Death’ cast thoughts to the big questions in life, the point of purpose, what one should be doing. It’s all there if you care to look. There’s humour, there is satire, there is crudeness – Naked isn’t a band that takes itself seriously. That being said, there’s substance beneath the weirdness that ensures this isn’t a half-baked, throwaway DIY offering.