REGURGITATOR – Superhappyfuntimesfriends

As with so many of their peers, Regurgitator haven’t made much of an impact outside their native Australia.  However, after years of hard work, half a dozen full album releases and a bunch of singles, they’ve become cult heroes among the alternative community.  They’ve even secured support slots with Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Prodigy on their Aussie tours.

Regurgitator’s seventh album, ‘Superhappyfuntimesfriends’, presents a mix of jangly indie-rock, pop punk and occasional electronica vibes, served with a frivolous and sometimes uncompromising attitude.   There are various words which best describe the album, but if it were best described by one, that one word would be inconsistent.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some good moments hidden among its messier elements, of course.  In fact, ‘Into The Night’ could well be one of 2011’s best individual tracks.  With a blend of electronic pop and sullen vocal, it’s the kind of track US band The Killers should record, if only they weren’t so horribly bland (and possessing such middling levels of talent).  It may be down to Regurgitator’s country of origin, but there’s a more than welcome hint of The Church during this number.  This could partly be the use of some very 80s keyboards, but it’s just as likely to be its slightly underwhelming vocal style – delivered in a way which would make Steve Kilbey proud.  Electronic treatments also provide the heart of ‘Devil Spell’, a short and wordless, yet brilliant piece; full of breakbeats and loops, it makes the band sound like The Go! Team reworked by Beck Hansen.  Simple but effective, never outstaying its welcome, it’s a number which works best with the volume properly cranked.

Most of Regurgitator’s other great moments on ‘Superhappy’ aren’t as reliant on retro pop or electronic features.  Their pop-punk tendencies – present on tracks like ‘No Show’ and ‘Uncontactable’ – prove them to be an outfit with great energy (and this also explains why they supported the much-missed CIV on tour).  On the former, a tuneful vocal is well suited to the bouncing riff, while the main hook of “it’s a no show!” is an effective one.  You’ll have heard a lot of similar material throughout the 90s and beyond, but Regurgitator more than hold their own in this department, making it a great three minute number designed to clear some cobwebs.  Due to a slightly more off kilter chord structure, ‘Uncontactable’ could potentially be the more interesting of the pair, though still doesn’t veer too far from punk pop.  A mid section featuring a phone call also demonstrates a silly sense of humour.  Overall, energy plus a reasonable hook more than carries this number off with ease.  ‘All Fake Everything’ is best described as “oddball”.  At first, it presents itself in the Ben Folds vein: a gentle-ish piano ballad intercut with jarring bad language.  Just as you think you’ve got it sussed, it’s all change…The second half of the track is loaded with fuzzy bass and a big groove, dressed up with rough-round-the-edges rap (a la Beastie Boys) – in short, a world away from where it began.  It might just work.  Even if you decide it doesn’t, at least you can’t say Regurgitator don’t kept you on your toes!

Moving things into more accessible territory, ‘Punk Mum’ is an upbeat indie-rocker with a throwaway feel, saved by some great bottom end on the bass and almost marching band drumming in places.  It’s maybe not as good as the likes of ‘No Show’, but manages to be great fun nonetheless.  ‘Outer Space’ brings some retro sounding, almost new wavish edges.  A strong and simple arrangement plays host to some muted guitar chords which recalls the best stuff by The Cars.  However, it’s downhill from there – with such a strong tune, it’s a pity Regurgitator couldn’t have backed up this good tune with a memorable hook of any kind.

Although there are some top tunes, ‘Superhappyfuntimesfriends’ suffers a little from too much filler material. As with any hit and miss albums, there’s bound to be stuff which passes the listener by without making a great impression.  In addition to a couple of such numbers, Regurgitator fill other parts of the album with near pointlessness.  For example: ‘Game Over Man’ fuses 8-bit computer noises with hardcore punk to create a thirty seconds distraction, while ‘D.M.T.42’ spends almost two minutes doing precious little. There’s a Daft Punk style electronic loop, a fuzzy noise and then a little shoegaze thrown in for good measure (which all adds up to a band definitely trying too hard) and ‘8PM’ is a short lo-fi acoustic piece which could have been a Smudge b-side.  None of these offerings reach this band’s true potential.

Given Regurgitator’s inconsistencies and attempts at squishing so many styles onto one release, it’s much better to approach ‘Superhappyfuntimesfriends’ as an individual collection of songs as opposed to a complete album.  Individually, you’ll certainly find some great tracks here, though it’s possible that these standout moments will vary wildly from listener to listener – and depend entirely on mood.

You can download the album on a “pay what you want” basis from the widget below.

November 2011