Words: Doug Wallen
Artist image: Bill Golding

Relocated from Perth to Melbourne, Hideous Sun Demon frontman Vincent Buchanan-Simpson doubles down on his surprising power-pop prowess with the new single from his solo outlet turned side band.

If you only know Vincent Buchanan-Simpson as the animated frontman of deranged Perth garage/psych trio Hideous Sun Demon, you might be surprised by the almost angelic guitar-pop purity of his solo project, Terrible Signal. On an oddly overlooked 2017 self-titled debut he penned clean-cut, jangle-happy earworms that added an itchy propulsive edge to the confessed influence of Flying Nun’s melodic side and ’80s Australiana like Paul Kelly and The Triffids. (See head-bobbing standout ‘Sunny Side of Town’)

Since that first record, Buchanan-Simpson has relocated from Fremantle to Melbourne and grew Terrible Signal into a proper four-piece band, recruiting guitarist Jakey Edwards (ex-The New Pollution), bassist Oli Grinter (Eternal Smoko) and drummer JD Laderman (Clowns, Hanny J). The first taste of the newly evolved project was March’s surprising ‘Man If You Saw Me on the Street Today’, a gnashing bout of scrappy power-pop that seemed to split the difference between Terrible Signal’s serene tunefulness and Hideous Sun Demon’s grotesque revelry.

The first taste of his second album, due out late this year, that ambushing track was reportedly informed by such cult power-pop bands as The Only Ones, The dB’s, Shoes and Game Theory. In other words, the increasingly versatile Buchanan-Simpson (who also plays in synth-punk scamps Kitchen People) has been doing his homework.

That’s all the more apparent on Terrible Signal’s cracking follow-up, ‘Retire’, which he says was modelled off Submarine Bells-era Chills. Gifted with a humming, almost Kraut-pop level of forward momentum, the song sees Buchanan-Simpson adopting Chills frontman Martin Phillipps’ distinctive singsong intonation at its most urgent against crashing hooks and starry keyboards. There are whiffs of Ausmuteants’ poppiest moments as well, and the whole thing makes quite a lasting impression in under three minutes.

Buchanan-Simpson says ‘Retire’ is about two different things: “how overwhelming reality can be, as well as where my mind was at when a series of stupid events left me homeless in London for a night a couple of years ago.” He adds that he wanted it to have “a constant-tension/explosive-release thing going on,” and that’s certainly there in the careening pulse of the finished product. Recorded by King Gizzard bassist Lucas Harwood, whose Dusky Tracks label Terrible Signal calls home, the song is an action-packed calling card for the solo outlet turned band – a reminder of just how punchy and thrilling power-pop can be.

Look out for Terrible Signal’s second album toward the end of 2019, and catch the band played two sets at Miss Moses in Melbourne on Saturday May 18.