Piles Of Lies
16 Track, LP (2011, Two Bright Lakes/Inertia)
They say it’s a marker of a strong personality that leads one to retain their original accent in a new environment. It’s been eight years since Batrider formed in Wellington, New Zealand, and little less before they high-tailed it to Australia and beyond. From then band core Sarah Chadwick has shed all original members, while losing neither her strong kiwi twang nor the lethargic acrimony that has characterised the last three albums of bitter resignation.
Perhaps it’s the fact that Batrider never stayed in a single place for long enough to pick up its local idiosyncrasies or that Chadwick’s accent is a way of maintaining a sense of place – as flexible and abstract as that may be. Establishing herself as the band, especially after the protracted departure of original drummer and last remaining member Tara Wilcox, one gets the feeling this is Batrider for real now.
Having settled themselves in Adelaide after a two-year journey through the squats and visa issues of Europe, Piles of Lies takes stock of a volatile past. Stripped down to the three-piece they were always meant to be – Chadwick on vocals/guitar, Adelaide native Stephanie Crase on drums and long-time bassist Sam Featherstone – Batrider crystallises that bipolar emotional pressure that distinguished them as a band unafraid of expressing the worst parts of being alive.
The slovenly pace of Chadwick’s creative gloom is hauled through each song with Crase’s sympathetic rhythm. The lighter side of the drummer’s influence has also crept through. Her sweetened harmonies complement and mitigate Chadwick’s abjection in songs like ‘Chunk’, while title-track ‘Piles of Lies’ rocks mockingly through a drowsy, atonal version of Crase’s indie-rock background. (She's a former member of Adelaide’s No Through Road.)
As always, Batrider’s distinct sense of humour is reserved for the song titles, including ‘Sweaty Magee’, ‘Howzatt’ and ‘Jan Power’, as well as sardonic one-liners like, “If I cry, it’s just the wine”, in ‘Test of Time’. The neurotic stream-of-consciousness of ‘Come Down’ best expresses the guilt, paranoia and neuroses of the day after too much drink lyrically, as the hangovers and dejection of Batrider’s past and present are all in the sound. Like their unruly approach to recording, editing and, presumably, tuning, Piles of Lies gives you a full 16 tracks in all their chaotic, loose-ended brilliance.
by Steph Kretowicz