The way Children Collide sound grungier than any directly post-grunge band is confounding. Although they formed some time after the flannel fad ended, Johnny Mackay still wears his hair long ‘n’ greasy and cradles his Fender Jaguar like a Kurt Cobain without the heroin vanguard. Far be it for me to criticise kids, especially Australian kids, for cinematizing mundane personal troubles in order to transcend them. In fact, Children Collide do it in a way that is, for the most part, rather unique.
Though the album was branded with D. Sardy’s prodder throughout, the live show is far removed from the big-beat tom-tom soundscapes of that hack. Mackay plays his sludge riffs and one-note Glenn Branca solos with fury, controlling them just enough to make it look effortful. The lyrics are the usual escapist tracts bleeding forth from youthful neurosis. ‘Everybody’s hooking up for the winter’ and when you’re left out in the cold you’ve got your records to fall back on. ‘Derivative’ doesn’t enter into the equation. Mackay even mixes in his patented brand of pseudo-conscious babble to show off his perspective.
Bassist Heath Crawley postures like it’s going out of style. With tight black jeans and a curly fringe, if this guy weren’t in a band, people would tell him that he ought to be. He happens to be in a fairly good one. Traipsing around the stage of the Hi-Fi Bar, Crawley’s bass makes Children Collide more of a powerhouse than any of Mackay’s chamois-cloth-tearing vocals. Here stands a band that is built on rhythm, distortion and dead brain cells. It’s a credit to the band that chops like this survived the 90s. They run through what the crowd wants to hear: ‘Across the Earth’, ‘Skeleton Dance’, ‘Social Currency’ and ‘Farewell Rocketship’.
In each we search for blowtorch majesty in wait for the post-apocalypse (because that’s the best part). The new songs, the names of which we mostly aren’t privy too, are caustic but interchangeable with the old songs. No matter; Motörhead have been consistently recording the same album over and again for forty years. The lyrics are still more pragmatic than anything ever to come out of Aberdeen or Seattle.
As far as proprietors of reckless Cro-Magnon rock ‘n’ roll go, you could do far worse than Children Collide. If you need an endorsement then here goes: right now, I can’t hear anything over the sound of my own tinnitus.