If you’ve been creeping around the coffers of Raven for long enough then the name Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, Smarts, Hierophants, School Damage) ought to sound familiar. The songwriter has found himself linked up with more than a few excellent waves of the Aussie underground but he’s also been hammering out a solo niche as Alien Nosejob for a few years now. In the early days the band was a bit hard to put a finger on, sweeping from hardcore to synth pop to disco-sliced delirium cuts. He’s found a firmer footing these days, settling between the synth-punk prickles and New Wave impulses that fermented on the fringes of the ‘80s. With two records out last year Jake’s been putting in the work all right, but he might just have hit on his best yet with Paint It Clear.
There’s often been a cultivated scuzziness to Alien Nosejob’s records and while it’s welcome in the songwriting, occasionally it would seep into the recording quality as well. This time the quivering bile is still there — chewing on the foam rubber remnants of DEVO, The Units, and Screamers — but this is a crisp cutter that’s bringing hooks to spare. The guitars serve up a serrated edge, the drums are caffeinated beyond their bounds, and the synths buzz with a sublime UHF saturation that beams in from the basement. Yet, it doesn’t get bogged down trying to grind one sound to death. Between the blasts of paint thinner pop there are touches of softness, shades of Game Theory that puncture the Geza X curdle. If the last few years were spent finding out what Alien Nosejob wanted to be, then Paint It Clear spends 35 minutes reveling in knowing Roberson has perfected the recipe.