Words: James Frostick
Band image: Josh Watson
Brisbane/Meanjin-born unconventional sonic outfit Cured Pink return with Current Climate – the first full-length album from the project in five years. Lead single ‘The New Public’ is a resonant and exhilarating listen, harnessing the outfit’s unbound ingenuity and knack for crafting singular sounds into something animated and engrossing.
If there’s one catch-all categorisation that succinctly sums up Cured Pink, it’s that it’s hard to categorise. The brainchild of Andrew McLellan, Cured Pink made a name for itself thanks to its dedication seeing what could be gotten away with as far as “music making” was concerned. The project’s formative period produced a series of attention-grabbing releases, each sounding different from the last. When Andrew officially recruited frequent collaborators Glen Schenau (Per Purpose), Mitchel Perkins (Clever / Psy Ants) and Stuart Busby (Deadnotes) to help transform Cured Pink into a band, it served to expand the project’s potential for racket making and envelope pushing. 2015’s full-length effort As A Four Piece Band galvanised much of the abstract elements of Cured Pink into a whole that, perhaps, was easier to pick up but no less dangerous to handle.
After that point Cured Pink seemed to go into hibernation. The band’s members turned to focus on other projects (Andrew decamped south and has been creating wicked thumping dance music under the moniker Enderie), which left Cured Pink in a state of ambiguous limbo. Turns out there was more to hear – a trove of compostions written and recorded at various locations between September 2012 and February 2020 has recently been compiled for a new Cured Pink record called Current Climate, out soon through Tasmania label Rough Skies Records. ‘The New Public’ – the newest of these songs – is being released as the record’s lead single. It’s a dizzying introduction to this career-spanning compendium, which is filled with all manner of arresting jazz jank, agitated punk and splashes of psych.
On As A Four Piece Band, Cured Pink oscillated between feverish and manic avant-jazz freak-outs and spoken-word numbers backed by haunting mewls and askew clatter – each track purposefully alien and debased. ‘The New Public’ is decidedly more human, or rather, a little bit more warm-blooded. Chalk it up to the horns, which cast robust swathes of sound through the mix instead of curdled skronk-y punctuation or spine-tingling wails. Or chalk it up to the babbling current of ringing notes at the outset, which also add to the relative roominess of the track. Once the ears adjust to the brassy blurt, textures emulsify and we’re soon gliding on a current that weaves between outcroppings of sharp poppling percussion and bass that lightly ripples the surface. Andrew’s spoken-word vocal delivery returns here, but I’ll be damned if I can catch the gist of what he’s saying. Leave it with me – it might come. That’s another thing about Cured Pink: nothing is given away easily.
As Current Climate’s opener, ‘The New Public’ hints at a kind of looseness that’s wormed its way into Cured Pink’s sound. Granted, much of the record was written years ago, so anything ‘new’ is technically ‘old’, but from my listens to the album as a whole, it seems that rest of it is similarly vivid and, dare I even say it, groovy. As expected there are passages of uniquely bent sound dotted throughout (could it be a Cured Pink album without them?), but even at their most obtuse, the band manages to rip off number of hitters that took me by surprise. Perhaps these songs have been saved for this moment. Perhaps they suit this current climate more than the times they were made. It doesn’t matter, really – Cured Pink has always been ahead of the curve.
Listen to ‘The New Public’ here:
Current Climate will be released on August 24 via Rough Skies Records. You can pre-order digital and vinyl copies here.