RVG: Mind Worms evaluate – scrumptious absurdity from one in all our most underrated songwriters

Tright here’s a second on RVG’s third album that made me giggle, then seconds later blink again tears. “They’re enjoying Drops of Jupiter, trigger they by no means actually knew ya,” Romy Vager sings – a genius rhyme – earlier than the remainder of the scene unfolds: “The room is so chilly and darkish / Your loved ones are sporting masks / I can’t hear the eulogy /The stream is dangerous high quality”. The kicker follows: “I don’t wanna see you undergo a tab on Google Chrome”.

That music, Tambourine, is a lament for a misplaced pal by the uncanny lens of a livestreamed funeral – a deeply intimate situation skilled by a really impersonal medium. Tambourine captures that dichotomy superbly, and encapsulates what the Melbourne post-punk band does finest: unfurling the eccentricities of contemporary life by lyrics spiked with pathos and black humour.

RVG is a masterfully economical band. Their debut album, 2017’s A High quality of Mercy, clocked in at beneath half an hour, with not a minute (or lyric) wasted. Over time, they’ve expanded into extra bold soundscapes similar to {Photograph}, the seven-minute nearer from their 2020 album Feral – however for essentially the most half, their songs stay quick and sharp, chopping instantly to the center of the matter.

The band’s frontwoman, Vager, has a exceptional vocal management and eye for narrative element. Her lyrics usually cope with the challenges of communication and the gaps between family members that may really feel unbridgeable; her prose, largely unadorned, hits like a punch with its bare honesty. There’s extra of that right here: on the primary single, Nothing Actually Adjustments, she wrestles with the contradiction of lacking somebody who’s been dangerous to her (“I hate deep down I nonetheless miss you”), whereas the pummelling Midnight Solar places it merely, however blisters with managed anger: “I do know that speaking to you doesn’t work any extra / so I don’t”.

RVG’s influences have at all times been clear – the darkish plod of You’re the Purpose recollects Pleasure Division’s moodiness, and the jangly guitar of luminaries such because the Go-Betweens and the Smiths are evident in RVG’s instrumentation, directly vibrant and melancholy.

However there are new substances, too. Synths characteristic extra closely on this report: Nothing Actually Adjustments culminates in a hovering climax recalling 80s new wave, and a delicate buzz is overlaid with strings on Widespread Floor – a deceptively calm opener. The band balances the weather in a cohesive, compelling mix.

There’s additionally a wholesome sprint of surrealism on Mind Worms that makes for a pleasant change of tempo. RVG has flirted with the absurd earlier than – Christian Neurosurgeon, from their final album, pitted religion and science in opposition to each other on the working desk, and stays one in all their most irreverent, intelligent moments.

‘Equal parts unusual and evocative’: Vager’s lyricism on Brain Worms.
‘Equal components uncommon and evocative’: Vager’s lyricism on Mind Worms.

They ham up it right here with Squid, a darkish, sprawling monitor full with a luscious, swelling instrumental break. Over a thundering riff that continues all through, Vager ponders life after going again in time, stepping on an historic Tiktaalik fish and turning into a sea creature herself – then going again to the current and realising that current in squid type doesn’t mitigate human ache. It’s a weird idea, however makes for one of many band’s most memorable tracks, all rage and ennui. As Vager repeatedly chants “I’m beneath the water”, you begin to really feel a bit such as you’re dropping your thoughts.

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The title monitor additionally leans into this manic despair – in opposition to thumping guitars, Vager yelps: “The mind worms received into my head and I can’t get them out”. The music’s lyric “I was a journalist / however now I’m yelling at my therapist” is a standout, however the entire monitor captures the insanity of digital life. It’s a transparent response to the up to date existential disaster, however avoids cliche by Vager’s assured and authoritative narrative voice. The lyricism on this report largely sticks the touchdown – it’s equal components uncommon and evocative.

RVG is one in all Australia’s best bands, and Vager one in all our most underrated – and understated – songwriters. Increasing the band’s tried and examined sound, and homing in on Vager’s knack for esoteric storytelling, Mind Worms is one other wonderful chapter in a narrative that continues to problem and thrill.

  • Mind Worms is out now (Ivy League)

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