Words: James Frostick
Band image: Jake Ollett
Album art: Botond Keresztesi
Sydney post-punk outfit Solid Effort is releasing its second EP Echo Chambers of the Inner West, giving the honours of first play to Weirdo Wasteland. The group weaves a sonic tapestry made up of disparate threads of punk, post-punk and pysch, where cryptic lyrics and social critiques add texture and emotion adds colour.
In Solid Effort’s first EP The Ballad of Bulli, the group constructed a smart collection of tracks that buzzed and crackled with energy. It was a release that showed an abundance of promise, but nevertheless evidenced a need for refinement. The group, which consists of Harry Needham, Nick Santoro, Patrick Walker, Phanos Proestos, Thomas Walker and until recently Amaan Hassen (now a resident of Berlin), have clearly put in work since then, refining the raw goods and stepping forth today with a second EP that makes good on the early promise, while showcasing clear leaps in vision and execution.
Echo Chambers of the Inner West is a five-track release that is propelled by a manic urgency – one that usurps brain activity and draws all attention to the intricate melodies and hoarse battle cries. Some music requires you to stop what you are doing and listen to make sense of it – Solid Effort gives you no choice. The twang of The Ballad of Bulli is replaced by a scintillating interplay between all involved. Guitar notes piece the inner ear, drums clatter frantically and then into lock-step rhythm, while the bass pulses like unsettling arrhythmia. The music eclipses errant thoughts and becomes all encompassing. This is a good thing.
Solid Effort’s almost gang-style vocals are one of my absolute favourite aspects of their sound, perfect for heightening tension and pressure – particularly effective when trying to convey a certain social critique. Echoed cries rail against monolithic tyrants and despair in their wake, while highlighting abuses of power large and small. Throughout the EP the band touches on a range of topics – from the disregard for conservation of natural resources (“scarcity in the land of plenty” in ‘Srckan Zelva’), societal disconnect and communication gaps created by technology (“excess humanity / wireless sex / in echo chambers / of the inner west” in ‘Cyborg’), the increasing grimness of the future (“when the concept of tomorrow had ended at last, you saw it shattering” in ‘Too Far Gone’) and what seems like the degradation of society at large in ‘Grand Prix’. It’s bleak, sure, but the force that these messages are delivered carry the momentum to spur one into action, at least.
Listen for yourself:
At its peak, Echo Chambers of the Inner West is an astounding showcase of malleable musicianship – a well-thought extension of ideas first tabled on The Ballad of Bulli. Two EPs in and the band is seemingly firing on all cylinders, and are well positioned to harness their new-found intensity in the future.
Solid Effort will be launching the EP as a cassette, and will also be embarking on an east-coast tour in July and August. Keep your eyes peeled for dates.