How many times growing up were you told a spider was more scared of you than you were of it? You probably looked at its eight hairy legs and beady row of eyes you thought to yourself, no chance. At least I did.
Well, you could say the same of The Smith Street Band and, in particular, burly frontman Wil Wagner. To see Wagner perform, or to be bashed around the ears by his bellowing vocals, might have you thinking he’s a man with no chinks in his armour. And yet if there’s a recurring theme running through the band’s fourth album, it’s a very human vulnerability.
Which isn’t to say there’s not plenty of punk rock defiance and strength throughout – look at the song Passiona, in which Wagner yells “music industry professionals can go fuck themselves” – but then in the same song he sings of having panic attacks on German TV.
Indeed Wagner’s lyrics are the not so secret weapon in The Smith Street Band. The album is full of great, sweaty, powerful, uplifting melodic punk rock songs, each with a distinct and uniquely Australian flavour. But Wagner’s stream of consciousness storytelling is one of the record’s most endearing characteristics.
Some may find his overly wordy delivery tiring, but his lyrics are the key to the emotional punch the record so frequently packs. When Wagner sings “Things get better but they never get good” on Death To The Lads, you know he’s coming from a very real, very human and honest place. And that’s nothing to be scared of.