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The Buoys – ‘Lustre’ album review: Aussie rockers’ cathartic debut

July 4th, 2024

The Buoys have been hovering on the edge of a proper breakthrough for years, thanks to three strong EPs that have positioned them at the forefront of Australian alt-rock. The Sydney quartet’s first full-length is somewhat overdue, especially after personnel changes dogged the first half of the band’s eight-year lifespan. But The Buoys’ line-up has been steady since 2019 (founding singer/guitarist Zoe Catterall, guitarist Hilary Geddes, bassist Courtney Cunningham and drummer Tess Wilkin), and together they finally deliver the debut they’ve been hinting at for so long.

‘Lustre’ follows through on the fiery promise of previous Buoys anthems like 2021’s ‘Lie to Me Again’, especially since Catterall’s ability to fold punchy commentary into compact, guitar-driven music has only grown more assured with time. The Buoys – who were named with a clear wink and nudge – centre the queer female experience more and more, balancing well-earned ire with accessible songwriting. The album’s best track, ‘Subject A’, hits back at the male gaze and celebrates the empowerment of not internalising external judgement. Similarly, the Alex Lahey co-write ‘Check Mate’ grafts a simple message about checking in with your friends to meaty, Pixies-worthy peals of guitar.

A record stocked with multi-tiered triumphs like those would be satisfying enough, yet The Buoys make a concerted effort to develop and showcase their range. ‘I Think I’m In Love With You’ is darker and grungier as Catterall describes rearranging her room so that it doesn’t remind her of the song’s subject, while the lockdown-inspired ‘Borders’ evokes Camp Cope’s sharp-edged emoting. The radio-friendly ballad ‘Holding On’ is immediately followed by a punky shout-along refrain on ‘It’s Over’ and the post-punk brooding of ‘BDSM’. Other tracks show off softer edges that make the band feel nicely rounded.

Though Catterall has a potentially easy target in the disappointing men of ‘Subject A’, her most affecting subject matter is her own emotional turmoil. “I’m finding some joy within all of the sadness,” she divulges as she examines grief and partnership on ‘Keeping Busy’. ‘Unstuck’ explicitly references an “existential crisis”, before ‘Totally Completely Fine’ closes out the album with some winking levity: “I’ll tell her everything worked out just fine/But I’m lying.”

Well worth the wait, ‘Lustre’ paints a bright picture of where the band might go next. They may not be alone in marrying of-the-moment anxieties with ’90s-style alt-rock — see their recent cover of ‘Vampire’ by Olivia Rodrigo, who’s done that very thing so well — but their dynamic range here proves that perfectly chosen words can hit ever harder than a riotous guitar hook.

Details

  • Release date: July 12
  • Record label: Sony
This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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