AAX have just dropped debut album Big Grief, and we can confirm that it’s a cracker. Consisting of frontwoman Maz DeVita, Ewan Birtwell and James Gatling on guitars, Tom ‘Griff’ Griffin on bass, and drummer Tom Bloomfield, the Brisbane punks worked with Powderfinger‘s Bernard Fanning and Grammy winner Nick DiDia on the twelve track release, with things taking a rockier turn than long time fans might have expected from the band. But with lead songwriter DeVita pretty much spilling her guts with the lyrics and busting said gut with some of her signature wails (just wait for the end of “Why”), Big Grief is an absolutely killer album, showcasing relatable Aussie punk at its finest.
There’s songs to scream to (“No Apology” and recent single “FU” are just two that spring to mind), songs to lock yourself in your room and sulk to (closer “IDKWIFL” and the musically softer but lyrically punchy as ever “Changing Face”), and songs with hooks and choruses that will never leave your brain (good luck not singing along to the woah-oh from “Little Things”). In other words, Big Grief ticks a whole heap of emotional boxes, and it’s all wrapped up in a glorious 90s alt/grunge vibe that speaks to the moody teen in all of us.
If there’s an odd spot, it’s “Last Week”. There’s nothing wrong with the penultimate track as such – in many ways, its sound is right on brand – but there’s a layer of overproduction there that just doesn’t sit right with the rest of the album, particularly when it comes to some unusually subdued vocals from DeVita. It’s a change in musical tone a little too close to the finale, when what we really maybe needed was more along the lines of “Labrador” or “Fade”.
Still, this album is bloody brilliant. Fierce, honest, and anthemic, Big Grief demands to be played over and over again – and while you’re at it, make it louder every time.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Header image credit: James Hornsby