Over time, reflective motifs romanticising the mundane day to day life within Australian suburbs and towns have become a strong part of some important local music. Starting from The Triffids to You Am I and up to the recent output of the likes of Dick Diver and Ciggie Witch, great music is formed using a relatable feeling of nostalgia. It zeroes in on what we may have previously taken for granted or considered too commonplace to reflect upon, which piques the interest of the listener and proves to be a powerful emotional tool. American Country music is comparable, with its tributes to simplistic small town life, likewise the blue collar longings of Bruce Springsteen.
Sydney’s Mere Women seem to have taken this approach but twisted it towards a more skewed and ambiguous direction of emotion rather than situation, aptly matched with a mixture of spasmodic rhythms that bleed in and out of rigid place holders. As the music drops in and out structurally, the lyrics move from fraught worry to eventual release - only to turn around again. Lead vocalist Amy Wilson asks “Will you still want me when I’m old and pale?” to the eventual refrain of “Just let it go, just let it go” in ‘Our Street’. ‘Golden’ suggests “Let’s never be strangers” but then it is assumed that “you will eventually forget my name, forget me”. Under the backdrop of this town, the feeling of age and self reflection comes in spades. The mantra of “Hands and face, hands and face, look in the mirror” in ‘Hands and Face’ feels so sullen and distant that the longing has been thrown away and met with a bitter acceptance. There is a gloomy feeling running throughout the album but it never falls into too dour a territory with the frequent use of light and shade. The beauty of it is that all of the above observations are only speculation; it is not so black and white that everything can be so easily deciphered and put into a neat little pile. Many meanings could be garnered from its mysterious ambiguity, which leads to the desire for repeat listens. All the signs of quite a special album.
Mere Women aren’t easy to narrow down which is why we have such an exciting band on our hands. If we need to play the comparisons game they share a space founded by the likes of Pere Ubu, Wire and even to some degree early Talking Heads. I'm guessing by now the words ‘Post’ and ‘Punk’ have come to mind, and yes, if this record absolutely had to be placed under a certain genre, it would be more than worthy of that tag.
The frantic groove of the music can be a little similar between songs, but it's saved by the sheer quality of the overall texture of the album. There are albums that lay out exactly what you should feel about them on first listen and instantly set the precedent for later listens. ‘Your Town’ is a bit more of a strange beast that initially appears quite easy to understand, but grows with each listen through its rich underflow. Mere Women are quite easily one of the best bands to come out of this city.