It’s fairly staggering to think that The Goon Sax have just hit their twenties, making pristine guitar pop at the perfect rock ‘n’ roll age. Their second record embodies a maturity which belies their tender years.
It’s often the most stripped back songs on We’re Not Talking that are the most touching, in the context of an album of immensely touching coming of age songs. Vocalist/Drummer Riley Jones delivers a highlight in ‘Strange Light’ – a meditation of the transformative and chaotic nature of relationships. ‘Sleep EZ‘ is another highlight (and demonstrates that in Louis Forster’s case, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). It’s a rugged, paranoid indie-pop staple, propped up by gorgeous two part harmonies, and like so much of this album it speaks to the uncertainties of coming of age – he is readily condemning his behavior and questioning his actions: “Spent some time along doing the things I enjoy/she must be bored/you were tired precious boy,”. Jones plays a perfect counterfoil to Forster on the aforementioned ‘Strange Light’, a comforting contrast to Forster’s confused self-flagellation.
‘Get Out’ is like a classic Go-Betweens number, with just enough discord and uneasiness to offset the sugary sweet melodies. Indeed, ‘We’re Not Talking’ is a peculiar record of contrast – a measured counterbalance of melancholy and sweetness. It’s viscerally poetic and it’s articulately flabbergasted and overwhelmed by the world around it; it’s an incredibly mature expression of the disorientating process of coming of age.
It’s also an immensely vulnerable record, with both Forster and Jones wearing their hearts on their sleeves and unafraid of exploring the beauty in the mundane; on ‘Love Lost’ Forster extends the metaphor of being unable to choose what to watch and read to his general sense of self. The gorgeously minimal ‘Now You Pretend’- based on a heart breaking and simple piano refrain is about an unravelling relationship and a series of miscommunications, Forster speculating whether he’s giving enough and whether his partner can be bothered.
The band’s songcraft has improved immeasurably since their first release, in its powerful, succinct simplicity, in its poeticism and melodicism. Jones and Forster’s voices and narratives gel beautifully on this record. It’s worth your time because it is a graceful and honest, if profoundly uncertain, transition into adulthood.
We’re Not Talking is out now on Wichita Recordings.