Brutal honesty is not something we often see in music, however Melbourne-via-Western Australia duo College Fall deliver it in spades on their second album The Curse of Us.
Musically, College Fall effortlessly switch from pop-punk to delicate ballads, something which even the most accomplished bands struggle to achieve. The band are clearly fans of American rock, and much like The Hold Steady and The Mountain Goats, their lyrics tell gripping four-minute tales of love, misery and isolation. On top of this, Jodie Lee Bartlett and Glenn Musto share vocals on the album, adding another layer of drama.
Album opener the Curse of Us kicks things off to punchy guitars and a ridiculously catchy chorus. And things only get better from there. Come to Bite us is one of the few songs which only features one vocalist, in this case, Bartlett. The bar room piano and strings perfectly complement her voice and the song’s subject matter. Fake Life mixes angular guitars, chanted verses and a general sense of angst to create an incredibly memorable track. On the other hand, Blankets chronicles three miserable summers, in a much more subdued manner. Beginning with nothing more than gentle acoustic guitar, the band come in so quietly you can hardly notice it. Not that that’s a criticism by any means, in fact it sounds very much like something Jimmy Eat World would be proud of.
Door Prize and The End’s In Sight are two of the riskiest tracks to come from an Australian band this year. Door Prize is a haunting account of an abusive relationship told from both sides. It’s moving, explosive and the kind of track that stays with you long after it has finished. The End’s In Sight, on the other hand appears to be a cheerful, triumphant track on first listen. It isn’t until you listen to the lyrics that you realise that it’s about a woman who is about to take her own life, making it an uncomfortable listen.
College Fall have released one of the best Australian albums of the year. At times it’s uplifting, at others it’s downright difficult to listen to, but it is never dull.