Premiere: HIEROPHANTS – ‘LIMOUSINE’

Words: James Frostick

Geelong/Melbourne new-wave nonconformists Hierophants are back with a new album Spitting Out Moonlight, three years on from the incredible Parallax Error LP. Lead single ‘Limousine’ is a slinky and understated number that uses the luxury vehicle as motif for how the trappings of wealth can isolate.

The well-worn proverb “money can’t buy happiness” is a peculiar saying. No matter how many times its used as cautionary advice against dependence on/the pursuit of material wealth, I’ve yet to meet anyone who wouldn’t choose to wield the gilded double-edged sword of wealth themselves. The dream of monetary riches is a popular escapist fantasy for anyone (read: just about everyone) who craves a little bit more. Personally, financial security is something that would make me, at the very least, a bit more relaxed, so in that sense having an excess of cash at hand would make me happier in the short term. I’d hazard a guess that the adage pertains more to irresponsibility and frivolity that comes with being suddenly (and overwhelmingly) wealthy, to the point where the concept of money no longer holds much meaning. Money is often a status symbol, one that denotes a degree of social clout that often becomes alienating for those on both sides of the coin. The perception that one is better than/less has the potential to permeate relationships to the point where the societal divide becomes almost as wide as the income gap. Perhaps this is where the unhappiness lies? The new track from oddball outfit Hierophants puts this divide into more subtle terms, using the tinted windows of a limousine as allegory for the barrier between rich and poor.

The first single from the band’s forthcoming LP Spitting Out Moonlight, ‘Limousine’ is a skewed synth-pop ear-worm. A soft clink of keys, a gentle patter of percussion and some synthesiser spurts form the key components of the track’s sonic palette, simple but never boring. The vocals follow along at a consistent bop, breaking down the syllables of limousine as if to emphasise its presence. Lyrically, it’s easy to follow along – at first the limousine is a point of pride, all smiles as it zooms past those looking on longingly from the street. A number of times the lyrics mention that there’s only one seat inside, and despite that seat being rather lengthy there doesn’t seem to be much room for two. By my listening it seems as if the interior of the limo is lonely, yet the space is crowded by ego, preventing others from joining the owner inside. At the end the lyrics shift, as the subject’s tone changes: “staring out the window of my limousine / wishing I could stand in the street“. It seems that money can buy a limousine, but it can’t buy you friendship.

Despite its simplicity, Hierophants’ usage of the limousine carries far more substance than other recent portrayals of the vehicle in song, in which it acts as nothing more than a piss-take – a symbol of superficial excess and fetishisation of status. I’m unsure if any of Hierophants have spent much time riding around in limos, but they certainly know that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Spitting Out Moonlight will be released on vinyl and digitally through Anti Fade Records on May 24.

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