Ah yes, the gurge. A classic Australian punk band, some would say the last true ‘aussie punk’ band. In an era of the Beastie Boys and Oasis, Regurgitator’s 1997 album Unit prided itself on being radically different. This album was explosive in the Australian music scene, it took the best bits of the 80’s synth scene (apparently there were good bits!) and through their punky-alt rock stylings into the mix for an phonically sophisticated amalgamation.
Those lucky enough to hit up the glorious Falls Music and Arts Festival would have heard the band perform this landmark piece of Australian art in its entirety, and as one of those people I can safely say that this band still have it live.
Or do they?
I think back to my Falls experience now and wonder whether or not I would have enjoyed their performance as much had they played other material, and I find myself struggling to say yes.
When it comes to Regurgitator the stereotypical ‘hipster’ phrase rings true; I like their old stuff better than their new stuff. It’s fitting that the opening track to this record describes such a mindset. The 80’s synth we all love so much opens the track to a robotic voice asking an unnamed band to “please become what you were before”. The repetitive chorus, of “I like your old stuff better than your new stuff” seals the message of this song-it’s a preemptive strike at
fans who were obviously going to hit back at this departure from the strict Punk EPs they had released prior to this record, which was indeed, radically different.
This pop song is juxtaposed remarkably by the next track, ‘Everyday Formula’ which is a return to the grungey guitars and sing-a-long, ‘na na na na’ bridges that we all know and love. This song of worldly despair makes for a lovely segue into the following track. ‘! (The song formally known as)‘ is a blatant homage to the glorious Prince who was out here just recently. The funky bass line and twangy, soul guitar makes sounds oddly familiar in a popular track by the Purple One himself.
‘Black Bugs’ was taken as a single not too long into the albums’ release. The Cure-esque guitar tones coupled with the gothic lyrics make for a song questioning what the point in life is. Up until this point, no two songs hold a similar tone or even genre. Each song could appear as a lead single on a different album, yet they mesh perfectly on Unit.
We witness some more classic Regurgitator in the following songs “World of Sleaze” and “I Piss Alone”. It takes the best bits of old Regurgitator, throws in some synth and an overdrive pedal and we’re away! The humorous and, in some instances, crude lyrics define an integral aspect of Regurgitator’s sound and fit snugly into the record.
Unit is a concept album, without a clear concept. The bridging title track features a simple synth line with an eery vocal, ordering the audience to “become the Unit”. Whatever that means. Vintage Regurgitator.
“I Will Lick Your Asshole” carries a Beastie Boys sound with cringe-worthy, quintessential Regurgitator lyrics. If you thought that the “Amount of Cock They Sucked to Get Where They Are Today” was gratuitous, you wait until you hear this track. “Modern Life” heads back to the tones expected in the early tracks in this record. Compared to the lyrics in the previous four tracks, this is like reading Descartes. The lyrical depth in the track is immeasurable when compared to “World of Sleaze” or “I Piss Alone”. It attacks the affluent society we live in which maintains you must have the newest and best at all times.
In a return to the frivolous, “Polyester Girl” and “1 2 3 4” are a pop song and a thrash rock song respectively which divide the album into even more genres, yet unite it into a whole. “Mr. T” is a seedy, funky, bass driven song that bears little relevance to the ‘A-Team’ and Snickers advocate. What is odd about this track in particular is the distinctly pop vocal leading the song in an almost Darren Hayes manner.
In closing the album, “Just Another Beautiful Story” we are left with the knowledge that this was indeed, just another album, by just another band. Just like how Radiohead are just a band and Closer was just an album,Unit is just an album. A whacked out, freakshow of an album that is perfect in almost every way. And thank god it is just an album.