As far as uncultured-dumbfuck America is concerned, bands like The Living Eyes are pretty much the only reason anyone outside of Australia can recognize “Geelong” as anything but the name of, say, a really obscure frozen yogurt flavor or a pompous rollerblade start-up company; rather, Geelong is a fairly bustling breeding ground responsible for an intoxicating slew of garage-bound rock and rollers, all of which too raw and repulsive to reasonably originate from a faraway port city as such. More often than not do these bands find sanctuary underneath the all-encompassing wing of Australia’s sleaziest, and arguably best punk label, Anti-Fade Records: a musical safe-haven for the strange, the sappy, and of course, the borderline schizos. And yet, even with the label’s tendency to incestuate musicians between some of their most prominent acts, including -- but not limited to -- The Ausmuteants, Orb, Hierophants, Wet Blankets, and Cereal Killer, both the label and city have quickly gar(d)nered the unconditional love and adoration from leather-toting geeks all around the globe, and with good reason: their music’s simply fuckin’ great. Ugly, sure, but great nonetheless.
This collaborative release between Anti-Fade, France’s Gone With The Weed and California’s Neck Chop Records sure as hell ain’t any different. The Living Eyes, already boasting a vast catalog of saccharine, sacrilegious, and yet surprisingly sincere garage rock anthems spanning between two 12” LPs, five 7” EPs / singles and a handful of cassette appearances, the group just cannot disappoint with their new twelve-track LP, “Modern Living”. Not in the sense that it’d be hard to follow up the consistently-noxious stint of convulsive, hiccupy, rose-tinted rock ‘n’ roll songwriting showcased in their preceding LPs -- steadily coasting on the fringes of punk, garage, and even pop and psych sensibilities along the way --, but more so because The Living Eyes have sprinkled enough inklings of genius between their records to show that, yeah, they do have a genuine aptitude for hooky, kooky chordage besmirched by a vivid, squeal-prone lead, all overlaid atop a catchy set of rhythms to bring a sense of pungent opulence to an otherwise filthy, irreverent endeavor, and that no, their band is a hell of a lot more than songs about cheap malt liquor and dicks the size of a man’s thumb -- though it would still be safe to expect songs about either of those. Because at heart, The Living Eyes is about as smart as it is stupid, as any good punk band should be. It’s completely demanding of your attention while being, in itself, utterly confused by whether or not anyone, including themselves, should be taking their band truly seriously. And at the end of the day, THAT is a mystery worth unraveling; one candied, caustic, captivating melody at a time. Aussie, Frenchie or Americano, this is a record worth snagging.