Wildflower Records (WFL-1314)
Stealth technology was just a gleam in a scientist’s eye when the Saints started out, and yet, somehow, the seminal Australian punks never got picked up on America’s pop-culture radar.
Overlooked even by most of the underground, The Saints started with a highly caffeinated buzz-saw attack before morphing into a graceful, mature pop outfit that favored melody over aggression. It was the Yanks’ loss.
The change was gradual, with the Saints busting out of Brisbane with its snotty 1977 classic (I’m) Stranded, then alternating tempos on Eternally Yours and adopting an R&B feel on Prehistoric Sounds, the album that alienated its punk base forever.
With Imperious Delirium, Saints leader and founder Chris Bailey reaches out to the “safety-pin and Doc Marten” set to bury the hatchet.
Emerging from a thicket of thorny hooks and catchy jangle-pop (“Getting Away With Murder,” an anti-corporate rant that might be the best song Bailey ever wrote, and “So Close”), scorching, fuzzed-out rockers like “Enough Is Never Enough” and “Drunk In Babylon” vomit a double-barreled barrage of outrage upon the unsuspecting.
“Drowning” is a straightforward, balls-out rocker that hits you in the face with Sex Pistols-like intensity, while “Trocadero” churns and boils, yet still manages to sound melodic. And then there’s “Je F**kin’ T’Aime,” a bit of garage-rock psychedelia filtered through the Buzzcocks’ pop-punk prism.
Venom is never in short supply with The Saints. In “Getting Away With Murder,” Bailey imagines an apocalyptic nightmare brought on by greed and capitalism with the lines, “Another night of broken glass and/Sonic booms as the world crashes/Around what was once a home/The fire will destroy us all.”
Then Bailey directs his ire at fascism in the mid-tempo, bouncing rocker “Learning To Crawl,” spewing the words, “Ghetto blasting neo Nazi jack booted thugs are running up and down my street/Bombasting me with their cataclysmic visions of a world where I can’t compete.”
Angered by the state of the world? So is Bailey, and he’s able to articulate that rage in biting lyrics, stinging riffs, meaty arpeggios, and melodies that stick like magnets to whatever metal might be rattling about in your head. All are part and parcel of The Saints’ Imperious Delirium, more proof that old punks never die.