-By Ben Smith
To say Luca Brasi have been around the block a few times is an understatement (and a cliché). The Tasmanian rockers have slowly cut their teeth since 2007’s Extended Family. In the following nine years, they’ve plugged away and carved out a future, releasing EP’s sporadically and an album in the form of 2014’s By a Thread. Over the last two years though, it’s fair to say Luca Brasi have slowly but surely, started to make their imprint on the wider Australian rock community. Supporting the likes of You Me At Six, Kisschasy and Title Fight in addition to increased airtime on Triple J have helped pave the way for their most recent release, If This is All We’re Going to Be.
Lead single Aeroplane kicks off proceedings with the brash, invigorating take on punk rock the band has become known for. The muscular guitar riffs and Tyler Richardson’s passionate delivery have quickly made it a fan favourite and it’s no wonder it has been attracting regular Triple J play. Its showcases the band’s many talents: the driving bass of Richardson, the intricate guitars of Thomas Busby and Patrick Marshall and the pounding, relentless assault on the drum kit from Danny Flood.
The early songs follow the tried-and-tested formula fans know and have come to love. Spin and Collapse seamlessly melds swirling guitars and punchy verses for an anthem custom-built for small rock clubs and circle pits, while the harmonious intro of Say It Back melts into a fiery punk number built on gritty guitars, all the while Richardson’s voice cries out over the top, rather than hide behind the wall of sound.
Richardson’s vocals are amongst the many highlights. Calm at times, rasping at others, he ensures every line is delivered with 100% emotion. At times vocalists tend to miss the mark by not delivering lines with the required emphasis the lyric is crying out for, but this is no such problem for Busby. His ability to read between the lines and understand where the measured approach is needed and when a harsher, more expressive approach is required, elevates the album.
While it’s all too easy to dismiss Luca Brasi as just another punk band (of which Australia seems to be churning out quite a few at the moment), their ability to marry melody with energy is what makes them stand out from the crowd. Treading Water offers up a controlled serving as Richardson‘s bass throbs vibrantly throughout, while the atmospheric backing vocals fill out the song nicely and add some meat to the bone.
Cascade Blues is similarly less urgent, with reserved guitars ringing out throughout the song, until it explodes into life in the bridge. But Anything But Conviction is the highlight of the melodic offerings, boasting calm verses which are brought to life by one of the biggest choruses on the album, as Richardson yells with all his heart, “If you’re not living, you’re dying/I’m not living.”
The album reaches a roaring, triumphant crescendo it deserves on Count Me Out, a song written to close shows with. The opening, distorted guitars give way to a laid-back approach from the quartet while Richardson hums over the top, adding melancholy with his delivery of “If this is all we’re going to be, I have developed a taste for defeat/If this is all we’re going to be, then count me out”. But the calm gives way to a storm in the second half of the track, as Busby and Marshall’s burning guitars light the way for the start of an assault on the eardrums. It’s arguable the band have never sounded better than they do in this closer, giving the album the finale it deserves.
Luca Brasi may have taken the long route to acclaim and success, but If This Is All We’re Going To Be shows it is not un-warranted. It may not propel to them the upper echelons of Australian music, but it is going to open them up to a lot of new fans. At a time when the resurgence of the Australian rock scene is starting to gather momentum, If This Is All We’re Going To Be sits amongst the best offerings and proves Luca Brasi aren’t going to go quietly into the night.
Photo Credit: Luca Brasi