Melbourne indie-punks Press Club look to live up to their growing hype on debut album Late Teens

When first I stumbled across Press Club’s single ‘Headwreck’ late last year I remember feeling like I had been graced by something vital and exciting. Graced probably isn’t the right word, the track feels like more of a confrontation than anything else. Frenetic, unrelenting and unapologetically raw, this was music in its purest, most sincere form.

This didn’t go unnoticed in the wider music scene either. The band’s inflating reputation saw them sharing stages with bands such as Joyce Manor and The Smith Street Band around their native Australia. January 25th will see the Melboune outfit release their debut full length Late Teens. The question facing the young band now is whether they can live up to their insurmountable hype.

The album kicks off with ‘Crash’. A slow building track that pulls you into the album painstakingly, leaving you almost on edge. As the layers of the track are gradually introduced you’re left to take a moment to contemplate. You’re waiting, waiting for any kind of indication of quality, or lack thereof. Hoping that the bands earlier singles were the match that sparks a wide blaze, rather than an ember that burnt out as quickly as it lit.

Eventually, Natalie Foster’s trademark vocals join the fray and put any and all fears firmly to bed. Once the track gets into full flow the band do what seems so natural to them. Press Club have always described themselves as a “live band first” and this is still entrenched in their DNA on this album. Almost as if the band have invited themselves into your house to shout “What are you asking me now?” While the songwriting is tight and the lyrics are often poignant it is this sense of unpolished rawness that tips them over the edge, specifically with Foster’s raucous vocals.

This track is followed by the glut of the bands singles. ‘Headwreck’, ‘Suburbia’ and ‘My Body’s Changing’ are largely responsible for the bands ascent and it is easy to see why. From the uncompromising assault of ‘Headwreck’ to its more restrained but equally captivating contemporaries, the band have assembled an enviable portfolio of effortlessly chaotic and compelling indie-punk.

Following the interlude ‘Side B’, the albums second half picks up exactly where the first left off, with the frantic guitars of ‘Ignorance’ drawing another unrestrained vocal performance from Foster. She leads the band throughout the album, whether doing so with her urgent delivery or just with sheer power. In an album full of strong performances, her incredible voice demands to be the centre of attention.

‘Late Teens’ is a huge example of this sheer power that her voices possess. The track opens with just the sound of rain which is soon completely swamped by her lone voice. By the time that the band join in on the assault the track is already in full swing. The band tend to dominate any space that they are in. Press Club are not background music. They are an audial assault that grabs you by the throat until you sit up and take notice.

In what seems like no time at all we reach the albums closer, ‘Stay Low’. The track features all of the caveats that you’ve grown to expect by now. Powerful, impactful riffs and razor-sharp drums escort us to what may just be the biggest chorus yet. Towards the track’s end the guitars and drums seem to build and build towards a crushing crescendo and then completely give way. This provides one of the rare moments of serenity on the album.

These final moments of the album provide their most poignant. Foster softly sings the tracks chorus over the now calm and subdued atmosphere. The gravity and reality of the track and its lyrics hits you in a way that it never really did among the clustered, energetic performances. On an album full of upbeat, boisterous tracks, you’re left to turn away from the offering having just been dealt a sobering final blow.

‘Late Teens’ is an incredible, explosive debut album, sure to earn the quartet more exposure and new fans. Even at the start of January, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on one or two of this writer’s end of year lists. It is packed with emotional punches, insightful, uncompromising lyrics and infectious energy. ‘Late Teens’ feels as fun as it does vital, packed full of highlights and replay value. For all the hype surrounding Press Club going into this album, the band have answered emphatically.