With their raw energy and vibrantly humorous and introspective lyrics, Aussie rockers Amyl and the Sniffers have always put their own exciting spin on multiple pastiches of early hard rock, punk, and riot grrrl, which was on full display with their 2019 self-titled debut.
Now, the group is back with an even stronger follow-up, Comfort to Me, which they worked on with Dan Luscombe, who has produced the likes of Courtney Barnett and The Blackeyed Susans. Accompanied by a scuzzy garage-rock sonic atmosphere and a multitude of flashy solos by guitarist Dec Mehrtens, frontwoman Amy Taylor rips and roars her way through every track. It’s incredibly transparent that Taylor is much more self-assured on this album, promising she’s got “plenty of energy,” on “Guided by Angels” and waving her freak flag high and mighty on bold and beefy cuts like “Choices,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Freaks to the Front.”
Throughout the record, Taylor stands in stark defiance against the self-righteous dickheads who stand in her way, chiding a bouncer at a club for judging her based on her appearance on “Security” (“You look at normies different to me/You look at them with trust”). “I am who I am/I said what I said,” she spits on the equally venomous love song “Maggot.” On “Capital,” a rapid speed-metal ode to bodily autonomy, Taylor channels the feisty rage of riot grrrl touchstones L7 and the sharp and witty commentary of Wendy O. Williams from the Plasmatics (“It’s just for capital/Am I an animal?”). “Out comes my knife/Out comes my knifey/This is how we get home nightly,” she rages on “Knifey,” railing against the unsettling fact that many women often cannot even go for a night walk without their safety being threatened by creeps.
“Hertz” is a taut rumination on the state of the world and the mind-numbing boredom of sitting through a global pandemic in an urban setting with nothing to do but “stare at the graffiti on the walls of the gray walls.” “I wanna go to the country/I want to get out of here!” Taylor wails against buzzing synths and distorted riffs.
“It’s hard to know what was the pandemic and what was just my brain,” Taylor revealed on Apple Music. “Even though you can’t travel and you can’t see people, life still just happens. I could look through last year and, really, it’s like the same amount of good and bad stuff happened, but in a different way.”
The best records of all time are often born out of chaos and uncertainty, but what always makes them so great is the solace of community. As far as I’m concerned, this is a massive victory lap for Amyl and the Sniffers.
Favorite tracks: “Hertz,” “Capital,” “Choices,” “Knifey,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” “Knifey,” “Snakes”
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