Super Best Friends are a punk three piece from Canberra and the word “political” is often thrown about in discussions about their music (something to do with a viral video, which I have to admit, I had not seen until writing this). Now before we go any further, let the records show that ‘political’ is the only way I like my punk, because I think that anything other than that is white boys whining and is contrary to the punk ethos.
Status Updates is the first full length from Super Best Friends and kicks off by reminding everyone why discussions about the band always turn into discussions about left wing politics – Conscript is nowhere near the general vicinity of fucking around in its anti war stance, likewise Dog Whistling is an astute observation on the coalition government’s stance on asylum seekers. The political commentary ties a lot of the songs on this album together – Billionaires’ Club, Moving Backwards, Radio Silence and Paranoid Peter Pandroid are pointed attacks at the state of business, Australian Political Parties, and Right Wing Journalism. This album is not for fans of any of those things.
If political statements are not your thing, there might still be something for you in Status Updates. The riffs are catchy and the production is slick. Often the music develops past three-chord punk noise and delivers more complex harmonic development than one expects. It also has songs that are not about politics, such as All My Friends Are Leaving Town, my personal favourite for the early-2000s feel to the chorus, and definitely the song on the album with the broadest appeal. Out Tonight is a hilariously accurate song about young people going out on the town. The final song, Slow Dance, did prompt a double take upon first listen but is a thoroughly enjoyable change of pace and an incredibly well written indie-rock ballad.
Singer John Barrington’s lyrics could not be described as subtle or nuanced, and mostly this works in favour of the music. Occasionally however, this lack of lyrical depth means that the messages of some of the songs get lost by being over simplified. Gentrified could have been a powerful look at the racism and classism inherent in gentrification , but ended up sounding like middle aged blokes complaining about how things used to be better when they were falling apart and terrible. It is catchy as heck though. Another disappointment is The Man Song, which attempts to dismantle gender roles but due to lack of lyrical clarity comes out more like the “Not All Men Song” , skirting around the issues and never really getting to their heart.
Status Updates is, overall, a collection of well written, relatable punk songs. It delivers plenty of “it’s funny because it’s true” moments, many opportunities for headbanging and singing along in the car, and is a strong debut from a band who know what they’re about. Four stars.