Hailing from Perth, Australia, The Decline are back with their fourth studio album; Flash Gordon Ramsay Street. This album is a return to the fast, loud punk rock that underpinned their first 2 albums but went missing somewhat on their previous release “Resistor”. You could be forgiven for thinking that this album is a 90’s or early 2000’s punk band signed to Fat Wreck Chords, it has definitely got that Southern California punk feel about it.
The album artwork is uniquely Australian with a Kookaburra sitting on a street sign that reads the album title “Flash Gordon Ramsay Street” in front of a court bowl bearing resemblance to that of Ramsay Street. For non-Australian (or British) readers; Ramsay Street is iconic for being the setting of terrible Australian soap opera “Neighbours”. The process of nonsensically joining pairs of words that flow into one another, the way a rapper – or schizophrenic – may, is continued from the album title to the 6th song ‘Summerbucht’ and the 13th song ’Bahia De Verano’. These songs, each 5 seconds long, include the same 15 words “flash Gordon Ramsay street fighter pilot light sabre tooth fairy dust Pan Pacific rim job” as the former ramps up in intensity and the latter winds down with the album.
The album reaches a value-for-money 17 songs but only checks in at 30min in length, ensuring the listener doesn’t lose interest or get bored throughout the album. Kicking off with the very solid “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”, the album really comes into its own on the second -and arguably the best- song “Brovine”. Without having any context, it is hard to tell whether this song is about sexual harassment and domestic abuse, or factory farms and meat-eating – most likely it is about both. The songs’ verses are tied together with a chorus-chant of “fuck off with your macho shit” sung with such passion that I can’t help but join in every time it is sung, I can only imagine this would be amazing in a live show. The albums intensity continues to rise through the fourth song “War” which features guest singer Nuno Pereira of A Wilhelm Scream taking control of the song for a single verse that completely changes from The Decline’s usual sound to that AWS.
The guest vocals don’t end there, the very next song, “A Verge Collection”, features Stacy Dee of Bad Cop Bad Cop as the girlfriend that the protagonist is running from. As the album approaches the end, the mood is lifted slightly by the song “Get Hyrule, Save Zelda” which features slightly more poppy music over a more relaxed set of lyrics about playing Zelda. For Australian music fans, it is worth identifying this song as another – “Get, See” song, starting with The Smith Street Band’s “Get High, See Mice”, Lincoln Le Fevre’s “Get Drunk, See Bands” and Luca Brasi’s “Get Sad, See No One”.
The raised mood is only temporary before the album ends on a particularly sad pair of songs, “Your Funeral” and “Josh”. “Your Funeral” is the only slow song on the album and is sung with serious emotion; the lyrics express concern for an old friend, the lyrics “feels like we wrote the whole of Eat That in your background over beers” identifies the friend in trouble as a past band member and quite likely former vocalist Dan Cribb. The song focuses on the friends mental health issues, not being in contact with the friend and the associated feeling of not being able to do anything to make a difference. This leads into the louder “Josh” a tribute to a friend who has died and how different things are now that he is gone. This doesn’t have the raw sadness of “Your Funeral” and feels more like a celebration of the life and good times that were shared before the passing of Josh.
The album has really put The Decline back in the drivers seat of Australian punk rock and demonstrates that they should be far more famous than they are. A little more touring to get their music out there and this album would be taking out the top spot on a lot of reviewers end of year lists.