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Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
‘And Now For The Whatchamacallit’

Written by Riley Fitzgerald

Has the era of great Australian psychedelic music come to an end? I think I have the answer, but it’s going to take a little while to get to so bear with me. And, yes, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and their new record play into it too so sit tight.

To start off I’m going to ask you to think back eight years (or a little bit sooner than that if you’re younger) to the first time you heard Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker. Tell me that it wasn’t special. Not only was it an important moment for a lot of fans it also set into motion a series of years where transcendent sounds and imagery filtered throughout Australian music. If you wanted me to play the part of the fanatic, I would even go as far as to say that it was the dawning of an era.

Scratch that. For our purposes of what’s being written here let’s think of as an all-night party. And now consider that every party must come to its end. If you can climb aboard that train of thought, I’ll tell you this. I feel that this one might be over.

Think about it. King Gizzard just released a thrash metal single and not too long before that Kevin Parker gave an interview in Rolling Stone informing one poor journalist and more than a few hapless readers about his newfound affection for Tame Impala confetti cannons and his deep-seated aspiration to one day purchase his onstage lasers the same as Rihanna has.

It was this that occupied his mind over any self-revelatory or mystical experience. That deep thinker who didn’t know who he was as he was looking for his identity and maybe his true love too finally had it figured it out. He knew who he was and found that romance too. (Parker married his high school sweetheart earlier this year.)

The reason I’m bringing all this up is that the visionary seekers are searching elsewhere or maybe they’ve just stopped searching in the first place. They’ve reached the end of their psychedelic quest. So where does that leave the rest of us?

Keen for kick-ons.

As the title of the first song from Psychedelic Porn Crumpets’ Whatchamacallit suggests, the party might be over but it’s time to cheer the f*ck up and ready ourselves for what comes next. A most hallowed of all times that, for many, forms an essential part of the end of any night. A period of post-partying which doesn’t so much as surpass any of its previous peaks as keep the whole crooked enterprise going as its participants throw themselves into a series of increasingly poorer decisions, regrettable hook-ups and a whole host of other less-than-intelligent activities that, due to the mind wiping effects of drugs and alcohol, very few of them will remember the next day.

These kick-ons are a crude extension, slow moving afterburns existing solely for the sake of all those who are yet to be completely satisfied with the proceedings thus far. This is a time of desperation my friends, the last chance for the ones that haven’t yet found what it is that they were looking for or quite simply are yet to have had enough. All too often it’s a kind of limbo that’s neither here nor there. A state of – whatchamacallit? Whatchamacallit!

Whatchamacallit is the kick on to Australia’s latest wave of psychedelic rock. We got there! And At this point we will finally talk about the Crumpets’ third album in the good detail that it deserves.

I once interviewed Jack McEwan from the Porn Crumpets and something he related to me I feel really places this band and their new record into the whole psychedelic context. What he said was that the Porn Crumpets were never the innovators or to put it more closely to his own words, “[The PPC have never been] a frontier band or the leading, cutting edge.” Their duality is that they are so deeply inspired by psychedelic rock but they themselves may very well sit more comfortably within the role of run ‘n’ gun rockers than truth seekers or sonic innovators.

King Gizzard and Tame Impala were the bands they grew up with, key figures amongst the groups that inspired them. The Crumpets have been happy to follow on from these forerunners while also grasping closer to something that might have more in common with prog metal acts like Karnivool and Mars Volta. It’s a big part of their point of difference. My take on the band is that they’re gentle people less geared toward lysergic gnosis as much as fat joints, kick-on taxis and goodtime rock.

In this regard they’ve carved an impressive niche for themselves as fan pleasers. While King Gizzard sniff at the suggestion of making another song like ‘Gamma Knife’ and Kevin Parker would bemoan the idea of revisiting the ‘60s leanings of his first two records, there’s plenty of bands who are more than willing to do so. And of these, the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are best.

Take ‘Hymn For A Droid’ for example. The third track from this new album makes clear that if Tame ain’t gonna cut another Innerspeaker these blokes are more than capable. And in doing so maybe make it a little more fun.

This is no indictment. Music is, after all, allowed to be fun and not too overly serious. The Crumpets also know their way around the riff. So to those who would dismiss them as a poorer facsimile, the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s ‘Incense and Peppermints’ to the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields’, I would have to disagree. To dismiss them as being so would be unfair because to make such a statement would be to ignore the fact that Australian rock has always liked itself a little crude and dirty, it’s less about mind expansion and more about sending its listeners well on the way to a good hangover. So while the Porn Crumpets pay some lip service to the hip trappings of psychedelia, strip that away and what’s really there is a rock band with the traditional appetites for thrills, kills and Sunday pills.

And I think this comes through in the songs and lyrics. Compare the cod Parkerisms of ’Native Tongue’ or the Gizzardesque ‘My Friend’s A Liquid’ to the bashing riff worship of ‘Social Kandy’ or the power chug of ‘When In Rome’. These last two songs I refer to are riotous rock, the kind of thing with a greater appeal to the body and loins than the Crown Chakra. I don’t believe this band are as much as rewriting the psychedelic script as much as acting it out in a way the stern-faced innovators are too busy pushing the art to give all that much of hoot about.

I don’t think there’s a whole mess of profundity to the album – ‘Social Kandy’ is more about bashing it out, a wolf Jet in a sheep’s hippie’s Lizard Wizards’ clothing robing. So let’s not pretend. Listen to this record for what it really is, a good rock album. The type that always had and always will be needed for.

Whatchamacallit is no elixir for psychonauts. It’s music for parties, rebellion and necking a drink or another person in the streets – pop-it-with-a-crumpet excess. I just wish these griddle cakes would cast off the wrote psychedelia and walk with the swagger that’s underneath.

And Now For The Whatchamacallit is out now on What Reality? Records, via Caroline Australia.

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