On their sophomore album, and first for US label Merge, Aussies Cable Ties retain the fire in their bellies, but stoke it with a few helpings of melodic pop and a quiet contemplation that may have been missing in the past. Throughout their early singles the band was a sonic jackhammer, tearing through injustice, sexism and classism while spitting in the face of a world that long since turned its back on the youth of today. Their first album refined the point on their knives, and did pretty good job of sharpening the rest of their blades as well. With a wider canvas they spared no one who’d earned their ire, and it quickly became evident that anyone on the receiving end of Jenny McKechnie’s gale force vocal torrents were lucky to get out with only a racing heartbeat and a clutch of psychic scratches. On Far Enough, the band barrels into maturity with the same bile in their throats, but also a good deal of calm contemplation as well. They balance their poles of their personality, and now when McKechnie lays into the full force of her anger, its a payoff that hits the listener with the whiplash force that makes the pummel all that much more powerful.
She picks up the lash from so many punk predecessors, and while there’s definitely a cocktail of Tucker, Hanna, and Styrene as the easy to top notes of the bunch, she and the Ties have taken the full force of progressive punk into their tank and turned out a record that’s much more than the fumes of its fuel. They chum the waters with the brooding calm of “Lani.’ They swallow the constant lump in their throats on the dizzying “Pillow,” — driven by bubbles of bass and vocals that cool to a croon. They’ve even captured the complexity of where we lie in wait at the start of 2020 with “Hope” — a song that brims with doubt and desire. Its a societal push-pull with uncertainty, age, generational distance, and the ideals of activism in the face of mounting evidence that no amount of rivets will stem the tide when the dam bursts.
Woven between these careful shadings lie the paint-peeler anthems that nail the fuckers to the wall, and when we hear the crack of bone on concrete its a satisfying snap indeed. On “Self Made Man,” Sandcastles” and in the titanic swells of “Anger’s Not Enough” the band shows that their fire’s never faded. Where the other songs stoke the coals and let the glow warm the listener, here they prove that those coals can build to a blaze bound to burn. What’s best about Far Enough is that it needs time to settle into the system. Their early singles and debut were instantly gripping, but like the best works this one takes a few runs through before it all locks into place. The builds and crouches become clear, the abrasive progressiveness of “Anger’s Not Enough” snaps into their place on an album that’s not a wild swing at its aggressor, but a patient plan of attack that topples its targets in good time.
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