Spacey Jane: Here Comes Everybody review – painfully sophomoric indie rock | Australian music

If Gen Z has a “sound” – what grunge was to Gen X, or EDM to Millennials – it has yet to emerge. The pop albums that have attempted to capture the spirit of youthful malaise over the past few years have been remarkably varied in tone: Lorde sought communion with nature on her pastel-toned 2000s throwback Solar Power, while Olivia Rodrigo bemoaned her “fucking teenage dream” to the sounds of glittery emo and pop rock on her debut album Sour. On their sophomore album Here Comes Everybody, Western Australian indie stars Spacey Jane take a different route, using bright, jangly indie rock to explore Gen Z’s fears around Covid and the climate crisis.

Arriving two years after the release of their surprise blockbuster debut Sunlight – the Aria gold-certified album that spawned the Hottest 100 runner-up Booster Seat – this album is the result of the four-piece’s conscious attempt to grapple with meaty, hard-to-discuss generational anxieties: “I wanted to reflect on the last five [to] eight years … Covid gave me time to not just sit and think about myself, but be more outward-looking in some ways,” frontman Caleb Harper told Triple J. “I wanted to touch on that as much as possible.”

“As much as possible”, in this context, though, still seems to mean “very little”. Although it may attempt to speak to a universal young Australian experience, Here Comes Everybody’s sights still seem fixed intently upon the navel; Harper’s comfort zone is expressing vague heartbreak or vague disaffection, and he almost never leaves it. Most of the songs here hit the same beats over and over: their protagonists constantly coming down and fighting with soon-to-be-exes; driving around blearily thinking of some amorphous “her” and hoping things will change tomorrow, but knowing they won’t.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but Harper’s songwriting is often painfully sophomoric, leaning heavily on trite truisms and uninspiring turns of phrase. Here Comes Everybody is named for the working title of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco’s beloved early-2000s indie record, and you have to laugh at the sheer hubris, of the choice: there’s a blithe simplicity to this record that’s miles removed from that album’s provocative darkness, its blackened wit.

On Clean My Car, Harper is “still seeing your name in the sunset”, trying to “fill this you-shaped hole in my heart”; Lots of Nothing sketches a portrait of a couple who “fall in love to fall right out, and break apart without a sound.” Pulling Through, the record’s glib attempt at an uplifting finale, contains lyrics worthy of a high school graduation speech: “If it feels like failure, it’s probably good for you.”

These are songs about growing pains that lack all the awkwardness and invigorating tension that comes with growing up – the kind of spice and urgency that made Hatchie’s Giving The World Away and Rodrigo’s Sour, recent albums that tackled similar topics without resorting to this level of cliche, so appealing.

Occasionally, Harper will touch a raw nerve in a way that’s kind of remarkable, in comparison to the rest of the album. On the almost emo-leaning Haircut, he offers a true pearler: “I tattoo my arm just to prove that I’m changing, but I can’t even fool myself.” There’s a devastating sense of inertia captured in that one line, a world of ambient stress and alienation that’s more vivid than anything else here. The rest of the record could have used such specifics; instead, the line is a single lifeboat surrounded by vast ocean.

Here Comes Everybody is hardly helped by the fact that, musically, it sounds like so many other records released by Australian indie bands in the past decade. In a playlist, its songs would slot neatly alongside hits by Little Red and San Cisco and the John Steel Singers and Hungry Kids of Hungary. But its overwhelming cleanness, its profound lack of any kind of chaos or discordance, matches the emotional content; this is a record that slips from memory freely and easily, so platitudinal are its lyrics – less the sound of Gen Z than a shrug, an attempt at empathy that inspires little more than apathy.



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