by Victoria Wasylak
Photo Courtesy of Nat Lanyon
New wave, aka the origins of today’s lippy sadcore, still exists, and it hasn’t changed much. The lyrics still dwell in a pool of salty lead singer tears, the synth is still an ongoing Flock of Seagulls tribute (intentional or not) and the imagery is as noir as ever. This Is Our Vice, the first full-length release from Brisbane’s Cub Sport is just that, an enduring extension of ’80s synth in all its glory, with an extra dose of electro as compensation for how music has changed in pop music since then.
This Is Our Vice takes some serious cues from the origins of new wave, made with little more than a soundboard and the bittersweet sentiments of nonconformity and heartache made apparent in the lyrics.
“I’m on fire / don’t put me out” lead singer Tim Nelson sings, that kind of self-inflicted “sad guy” mentality that permeates hipster culture. In fact, lyrically, the album is a Lana Del Rey record put to synth, especially on “I Don’t Love My Baby," a track whose title describes its nonchalance succinctly.
Our protagonist here is a love-struck and troubled gent, most likely with a penchant for stress smoking, the archetype of modern indie music. His character develops at a rapid pace via endlessly evocative lyrics like “heading into the sun / because I’ll never belong” (“Sun”) and “I can’t save you / even though I want to, baby” (“I Can’t Save You”). The despondency doesn’t dissipate at any point in the album, although the accompanying beats seem satisfyingly upbeat.
The songs on the record swirl together like a dribbling sundae mixing with bits of caramel, marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles. Such sonically aligned songs usually call for two thumbs down—one-trick musicians most often have little offer—but the marbling effect of the tracks works to the group’s advantage, achieving the airy, billowy atmosphere the entire tone of the album tries to produce.
The album’s final word is “Stay,” a desperate cling to both the listener’s eardrums and their ’80s-centric tone. It’s a convincing argument—Nelson’s falsetto on the chorus aims high and brings freshness to the album’s blueprint for new wave, as well as pulls some Artic Monkeys-esque influences into it. “Stay” is a lingering final note that gives This Is Our Vice enough of a hook to pave the way for a more prominent second release.
This Is Our Vice will available for purchase on March 4.