Purplene have attitude. Well, maybe not to the extremities of say Kathleen Hanna, Sleater-Kinney or Fugazi. But after one listen to their new self-titled release you can feel a real sense of opinion in their songs. Take, for example, the first lines of track 1, ‘Love: Western’… “Background checks on best friends / Surveillance, nose-high from rooftops.” ..then check out ‘Cahoots=1’, the record’s grandiose central masterpiece, where they spit… “They’re harbouring something or someone / But I’m watching out for number one.”And what’s all this opinion about? Each of their eight songs are abstract, clever and insightful snapshots peering into the frailty of the human condition, yet Purplene don’t give too much away. Can you trust your best friends and those who ask of your respect? Where does honesty and good will end, and politics start? Make up your own mind. These issues aside, Steve Albini has not only a similar uncompromising ethic as the Purplene boys… (an issue of ‘Maximum Rock & Roll’ quoted him as saying “Signing to a major label is like putting a gun to your head.”) …but he’s also one of the most uncompromising musicians in the world. He was once the force behind Big Black, and since the 1990s he’s been steering the ship of indie legends Shellac. As an engineer… (don’t call him a ‘producer’ – leave that title for lame Hollywood films) ..his CV is impeccable. The media likes to talk about his work with all the well-known artists like Nirvana, Page & Plant and The Breeders, but his work with bands like Labradford, Smog, Will Oldham, Scout Niblett, Low, and Mogwai were the main reasons Purplene wanted to work with him. But they also have a soft spot for ‘In Utero’.
Take any well-known producer or engineer aside though, and a record still doesn’t stand up if it doesn’t have the songs. And this record really does have the songs. ‘Swords Down’, featured regularly on FBI, JJJ & RRR, is as close to a perfect Purplene three-minute pop song as you can get. ‘Second Shift is angular in its guitar work and beautifully epic in its mood. Tracks like ‘The Battler’ and ‘Watch The Watch’ are also standouts – leaping into unchartered waters that are so calm, dreamy and reflective, few Australian band has ever dared or tried to tread there.
Released February 28, 2018
LP / Digital
first press: 300 Black (5 test presses)
The LP is pressed on virgin vinyl and comes in a heavyweight gatefold jacket and download code for a digital copy of the album.