Phantastic Ferniture – Phantastic Ferniture [Words || Max Lewis]
The name might make you roll your eyes, but Sydney alt-rock trio Phantastic Ferniture’ debut is far and away one of my favourite albums of the year. With Julia Jacklin at the helm, the album is a jamboree of catchy rock tunes that harks back to the 90s heyday of alternative rock, without betraying its modern sensibilities. The songs are simple and poppy with catchy riffs, pleasing chord progressions and Jacklin’s gorgeous vocals soaring through melodies. Tracks like “Dark Corner Dancefloor” and “Uncomfortable Teenager” feature some fantastic ear-worm choruses leaning closer to top-40 rock pop from back in the day, while others like “Gap Year” and “Fuckin’ and Rollin’” explode into garage-rock freakouts that offer a nice counterbalance to the poppier moments. Then there’s tracks like “Bad Timing” and the closing cut “Mumma Y Papa” that luxuriate in reverb-soaked vocals and layered guitars, leaning closer to shoegaze than anything else. Phantastic Ferniture covers a lot of ground in its 35 minute runtime, yet it never once loses grip on solid songwriting and fantastic sound, sounding nostalgic yet modern at the same time. If you want something a little different than the dude-bro wank that is much of Aussie garage-rock, look no further than this absolute slapper.
Ruins – First Aid Kit [Words || Erin Christie]
I’d only been single a couple of days before I went and saw First Aid Kit live in April of this year. Sometime around the end of high school, I fell in love with their third album, Stay Gold, but I’d barely listened to Ruins when I crashed my parents date to go see them by buying a last minute ticket and dragging my sad self along to the Enmore. The show was not what I expected, in that it was one of the greatest displays of girl power I’d ever witnessed in my 22 years. About halfway through I remember having the very distinct thought that First Aid Kit would be the ones to drag me through this heartbreak, whether I wanted them to or not. And soon after, Ruins became the soundtrack of my life. From the twanging folk sounds to the more reserved, quiet, melodic tracks, it seemed to have all my feelings covered. The original standouts for me were ‘To Live a Life’, with its stream of consciousness lyricism that sounds just like a hazy post-breakup thought process, and ‘Hem of Her Dress’ which sounds like a gang of carefree people singing away their heartbreak drunkenly in a pub, but in a beautiful way with again, amazing lyrics. However, the current standout is the titular track, ‘Ruins’. This is probably because I am again casually seeing the very same guy who spurred my re-energised love for First Aid Kit back in April. The breakup-based lyrics no longer feel reflective, but preparatory. We weren’t apart long enough for me to find a new breakup album, so it’s comforting to know that I already have one prepared when the inevitable occurs.