It’s been 9 years since the last Fear Like Us LP (funnily enough titled Fear Like Us), even longer than the Brand New drought which also ended this week. But now the rains have come and the Melbourne folk punk quintet have dropped Succour, a ten track – that’s one for every year + a special bonus- vibrant and politicised effort not normally found in the books of label Poison City Records (with the exception of last year’s Smith Street Band actions to do with a certain Tony Abbott). And nearly a decade brings a hell of a lot of change in music, even if the same isn’t true of the world outside.

2007 found Australia presented with Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister who looks the most likely to have eaten glue as a kid. His role in government, along with Julia Gillard, unleashed the hell of offshore detention centers onto the world. It’s a development that during their downtime Fear Like Us have have incorporated heavily into this newest effort. About half the tracks invoke the horrors regularly faced in Naura and Manus, particularly within ‘Who Killed Reza Barati’. Conjuring up images of 60s era protest singers, Jaime Hay sings the responses to the increasingly hostile environment refugees face with the faith of an excommunicated Catholic, punctuated with the lack of action devoted to finding the killer of 23 year old Iranian refugee Reza Barati. J-Hay’s voice, which as downtrodden as a cat locked outside in a thunderstorm although much more listenable, underscores the woe as he sings the official responses which the Aus government, Broadspectrum security, and the Nauru government used to avoid responsibility for the crime.

It’s in tracks like ‘Reza Barati’ and closer ‘The Face Of War, Washed Upon The Shore’ that set Succour far above the standard for punk. It’s not that punk can’t be used to tell personal stories, acts like Jawbreaker or,in an example a little closer to home, the new Luca Brasi record prove this. But the genre almost always lends itself to tales and critiques of society as a whole, something Fear Like Us take clear advantage of. Considering how apolitical a lot of Aus punk is, ‘Reza Barati’ signifies the genre when it’s done best: when a quiet, stripped back track leaves you feeling like you need to shout out to alleviate the outrage.

Progression is a theme through-out Succour, so it’s not a surprise to find the band moving forwards instrumentally as well. Rip-roaring tracks like ‘The Gaslighting Anthem’ and ‘Dire’ show a different approach for the downbeat and depressed band Fear Like Us were born as, one focused on the energy just as much as message. Whereas 2007s Fear Like Us suffered from inconsistently, Succour is a solid journey all the way through, even when trading lo-fi fuzz for nylon string plucking. The result is something that comes off as likely the most memorable release the band has fronted, and an instant gem in the Aus underground scene. Combine that with the uniqueness of content and the serene quality to the album even with its rigid distortion and drums strong enough to shake your core.

Ultimately, Succour is what someone who’s been waiting nine years for a new LP would be hoping to find: meaty, solid, and poignant. It’s nice to see progression in an act as ingrained as Fear Like Us, even if the world they reside in seems devoted to avoiding that. Succour isn’t a perfect album, but damn if it isn’t refreshing. And really, isn’t refreshing exactly the feeling you’re looking for when closing a drought?

Succour is available now at Poison City Records

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