Words: Doug Wallen
Band image: Louis Roach
How much articulated fury can a band communicate in just 128 seconds? In the case of Hexdebt, it’s more than most bands manage over an entire album, judging by the scorching commentary of their new single ‘Loops’.
Four months on from lead single ‘Covenant’, ‘Loops’ is the second volley from the Melbourne punk quartet Hexdebt’s hotly anticipated debut album Rule of Four, out on Poison City Records at the end of next month. Like its predecessor, ‘Loops’ was recorded by Melbourne sound engineer Bonnie Knight and Alicia Saye (Hacker , Infinite Void, Deep Heat), with the latter recording and mixing the rest of the album.
Between its balance of snarling drive and gauzy effects, the new song evokes Poison City labelmates Cable Ties and Mere Women in equal doses. But vocalist/guitarist Agnes Whalan comes decidedly into their own here, whether dropping prodigiously jagged wordplay in the verses or cutting to the bone with the withering chorus mantra “I see what you did there.” The track bottles the jittery live interplay that Hexdebt have perfected over the past two years, playing left-field festivals like Gizzfest and MONA FOMA as well as more homegrown parties like Melbourne Music Week and Brunswick Music Festival. They even curated their own festival last November, selling out both levels of Gasometer, and they’ll tap the classical training of half their members when they reimagine their music with strings and other classical instrumentation alongside one-off collaborators as part of Brunswick Music Festival next week.
Comprised of Whalan, Aife Larkin (guitar), Isobel D’Cruz Barnes (bass) and Lucy Fry (drums), Hexdebt released the 7” EP Bitch Rising in 2017. All too open in the past about being a queer band in Melbourne, Hexdebt turn their attention to “the evolution and hopeful deconstruction of archaic systems of power, the monetisation of personal pleasure and social capital, autonomy over the self and the painful muffling of oppressed voices and the passing of time” on Rule of Four.
If that sounds like heavy lifting for a young band’s very first album, Hexdebt’s acid-laced material so far proves that they’re very much up for the challenge.
‘Loops’ comes out Thursday, March 7 via Poison City Records. Hexdebt’s debut album, Rule of Four, will follow on Friday, April 26. The band will launch the album at Northcote Social Club on Saturday, May 25.