Bushwalking expresses itself in melodic pop songs, atmospheric drones and surging, throbbing, minimalist post-punk, sometimes mixing two or more elements in the same song. The result in No Enter, the band's sophomore LP, is catchy, hypnotic and invariably exciting. And, to the credit of the band, it certainly isn't like any other pop album you'll hear this year. My impression also is that it is a brave effort, as the band seems unconstrained by any notion of providing songs with radio-friendly templates or singular musical themes. Instead we are treated to alternating and overlapping layers and surging changes in atmosphere. Perhaps, emotionally, it is a bit like walking through the bush.
Ela Stiles of the Sydney band Songs originally conceived of Bushwalking as her solo project. But after hearing the contributions of two musicians she brought in to help record the songs, Nisa Venerosa of Fabulous Diamonds and Karl Scullin of Kes Band, she pronounced it a trio. Their debut LP, First Time, was released in 2012, and was well received. No Enter is a bigger, harder statement from the band. The album begins with the pop tune, "No Men", which would be a tease in light of the following tracks if it weren't such a fine song on its own. Track two, "The Grey Area" takes us into what I call the Bushwalking zone. Warpaint-like vocals and soaring harmonies duel with throbbing bass and grinding guitar while martial drums pound out a foundation. The Bushwalking zone encompasses tracks two through eight, all of them with a distinct personality, and distinctly delicious. Two of them, "High Hogs" and the title track are provided below. The final track is the measured melancholy of "Always Here". Reminiscent of an old folk song, it features lovely background vocals winding around Ela's aching lead.
This is one of those albums you will seen on year end lists. Check it out now so you aren't slapping your forehead in December saying "oh yeah, now I remember ... ."
Live performance of the title track --