Upon Alex Wall’s decision to return to Australia and put Wax Witches on the back burner Bleeding Knees Club has returned to the stage and the airwaves. Chew the Gum is the band’s first release since 2013. Having said goodbye to original member Jordan Malane and expanded into a recognised four-piece set up featuring the aforementioned Alex Wall, Michael Barker, Gio Alexander and Nick Leighton we weren’t sure what to expect. Produced by The Grates’ John Patterson and mixed by Lachlan Mitchell Chew The Gum is a four track EP of sun-soaked pop-punk affected garage rock.
2013’s standalone single Feel left a bad taste in the mouth of some as the band had seemingly abandoned their pop-inflected garage rock of their earlier releases EP Virginity and LP Nothing to Do, which was reminiscent of early Black Lips meeting The Bittersweets, in favour of a Descendents’ Cool to be You influenced style of pop-punk. Fortunately for those who did not overly enjoy Feel the band has found a middle ground on Chew The Gum.
Opening the EP is title track ‘Chew The Gum’ with a bright riff driving the track and beautifully engineered drums Wall exclaims his own angst and dissatisfaction; always wanting more, while it’s unclear as to whether he just wants more gum or something more poetic than chewing gum it is clear that it is an opening track that will have your ears glued to the speakers in anticipation of what is to come. ‘Sick Feeling’ does not disappoint; a heavier track featuring a somewhat offbeat but effective vocal delivery proves to be a real highlight.
Things get a little slower and a lot sweeter on ‘Sun House’, a garage pop gem that wouldn’t feel out of place on previous releases, Wall’s lyrics reminisce and express his lust for a time and person from his past. The pace picks up again on closing track ‘Cyber Doom’, leaving us with their thoughts on society’s dependence on technology. Chew The Gum greatly benefits from the addition of a second guitarist allowing the band to chose to go heavier when appropriate.
On Chew the Gum, Alex Wall’s songwriting stocks have greatly improved and the addition of a second guitarist has allowed Bleeding Knees Club’s ability to find the middle ground between a heavily stylised American pop-punk sound and garage rock sensibilities. This EP has well and truly exceeded expectations.
Highlight: Sick Feeling