After gracing 2020 with one of the best single releases of the year, Sydney trio STUMPS have delivered on their debut album All Our Friends. Tackling themes of love, toxic masculinity, having a damn good time and mental health. Made up of Kyle Fisher, Merrick Powell and Jonathan Dolan, the record showcases the bands effortless movement between genres and sounds, creating a listening experience that is truly unique, yet feels like you’ve listened to the record everyday for a year. Each song explores different avenues of themes that play into mental health, creating an open and inviting place that allows for contemplation and conversation.
Opening with the sublime Mt. Pleasant, the trio begin their navigation of feelings of love and connection. With universally relevant lyricism and themes, the previously released single came at a time in the worlds history where we can’t physically connect with each other, creating a moment of serendipity and reflection. I’ve Had Enough immediately shifts gears, bringing disco influences. The commanding and captivating track sounds like it could be a lost Queen track, finally unsurfaced to save the tumultuous year that has been 2020. The song is about shrugging off the negativity, opting to have as much fun as humanly possible, with punchy melodic phrasing that is reminiscent of David Bowie.
On This Is Why We Fall Apart, the band take aim at toxic masculinity and the suppression of emotions that accompanies the stereotypical views of what it is to be ‘manly’. The song continues the 70’s and 80’s vibes, keeping it fresh and zesty and having an element of WHAM! to it. Three tracks in and frontman Kyle Fisher has already expertly exhibited the versatility and strength of his vocals, with each song revealing different tones and textures. The band get a bit more vulnerable on Makes Me Alright, an ode to the person who makes you feel better and around you. STUMPS have perfectly brought everything we love from the 70’s and 80’s into a contemporary setting, with Laugh About It’s guitar rhythms feeling like the could slide right into a Nile Rodgers or Chic classic, which sends the message to not take life too seriously, have a laugh.
Try to convince me Radiohead didn’t wish they wrote 2020. It’s a classic new wave rock ballad that’s all about breaking away and changing the cycle, set to killer melodies and guitar riffs. The band similarly explore societal themes on Daffodils, commenting on the over consumption and the obsessive nature of humanity. If Paramore and INXS wrote a song together, it would be the verses of Mouth Static. But then STUMPS take a sharp turn and deliver a mighty fine anthemic chorus. Confident and captivating, the song is a standout moment on the record, pairing Fishers vocals with an electronic dance soundscape. Suburbia is just so good. So, so good. There’s a bit of a The Presets vibe with a whole lot of raucous drums.
The brief interlude that is Culture Tourniquet is a distorted, laid back, guitar led track that touches on suicide and mental health. Whilst the track is a sonic outlier on the record, it thematically pulls together the over arching themes of the album into one succinct piece. It’s pulled back nature gives it the feeling of a lullaby. With epic guitars and robust percussion, Conversation, Conversations is another standout moment on the record. Melodically the track moves through peaks and valleys, conceptually the song continues their commentary of toxic masculinity. The record closes with The Bore, feeling like we’ve come full circle back to the sonics set out on Mt. Pleasant. Building to a crescendo, the song perfectly resolves the twelve track record, leaving listeners already wanting more.
On their debut album, STUMPS take listeners on a genre-bending ride, complete with anthemic hooks counterbalanced by Fisher’s deep lyricism and baritone vocals. Infusing references of 70’s and 80’s and the alternative rock of the late 90s and early 00s, the record is full of indie-rock melodies and riffs with a particular focus on their unique approach to disco, taking a more contemplative approach, working together perfectly. Fishers vocals perfectly contrast against the nostalgic dance soundscapes presented throughout the release, with each song meticulously crafted to evoke emotions within the listener.
All Our Friends is out now!