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Kitchen's Floor
Battle Of Brisbane Brendan Telford , September 22nd, 2015 13:11

By naming his third album Battle Of Brisbane, Matt Kennedy is making a statement. Not that he is shy of taking a stance – his previous two LPs under his Kitchen's Floor guise, 2009's Loneliness Is A Dirty Mattress and 2011's Look Forward To Nothing, effectively painted an outsider, a desperate outlier, spewing forth the frustrations, both internal and external, that emanates from the grimy, broken-down backwater of Australia's disingenuously named Sunshine State. Revelling in the scuzz of lo-fidelity lounge-room recordings and quasi-blasé bottom-dollar rock that belies a fiercely sardonic and acerbic world view, Kitchen's Floor brought downer rock to the underground masses, and opened the floodgates to the grimier aspects of the Australian music scene of the last half-decade.

The outward anger and self-flagellation is still in full effect here, but a lot has changed too. Brisbane is not the backwater countrified city it once was – or at least believes itself to be shirking the darkness of the racist and corrupt 80s. It is filled with a burgeoning café culture, boutique bars and independent cinemas. But that is as much of an irritant. Opening with the explosive 'Sundowner', it is clear that more things change, the more Kennedy thinks things stay the same. The recordings (ramped up by Blank Realm's Luke Walsh) are cleaner and louder than anything that's come before, which only lends further potency to the negative rush. A plodding dirge that has more power in its two minutes than anything Kitchen's Floor have previously committed to tape, a fierce roar against the modern pricks (the new line-up helping things here, with Robert Vagg (Wonderfuls) and Josh Watson (Sewers) lending a febrile yet dead-eyed severity). "This is Brisbane history, creeping round the background". "Defend the streets from who you meet". "When are they gonna leave/I hate everybody here". It's self-loathing to the power of a thousand suns, projected on the immediate environment, those who revel in the changes, those who enforce the changes, those who moan, lie down and submit.

'Negative' is just as brutal, both celebrating and serrating the self-defeatist downward spiral of alcoholism, isolation, indolent malaise, with the fur of continual consumption firmly entrenched in the cracks of the lips, surrounded by other reprobates as lost as yourself. It's brutal in its nascent self-disgust, moreso than Kennedy's back catalogue that is liberally littered with similar dead-eyed confessionals. It takes the somewhat misleadingly-titled 'Bitter Defeat' to break the bonds of despair, an older track that is revitalised with distortion and a baleful bawl of "The window is open/To a nothing day" – almost a shot at redemption despite being soaked in a sense of being overwhelmed by the malaise of monotony and scratched-together existence. Don't think we are reaching the light at the end of the tunnel though – 'Down' is exactly that, a meditation of where one has gone wrong, drowning in cheap wine so that you can stop "waking up your dead friends". But again it's the delivery that throws the curveball – another mid-tempo rocker that feels almost uplifting, a juxtaposition that Battle Of Brisbane gleefully punctures.

As always, a Kitchen's Floor album isn't complete without a summation of Kennedy's lifetime closing things out. As with 'Twenty-Two' and 'Twenty-Four' before them, 'Twenty-Eight' is a beacon of bile, yet with more years lived, the derision has only hardened into broken abhorrence, aided and enforced by an abrasive squall of squalid noise. Disappearing into abject Jesus Lizard misery, Kennedy muses a night out in Brisbane that produces nothing by white-hot vitriol towards the disappointments of everything, including himself. The battle, as always, is with the banality of Brisbane as seen through the seemingly myopic eyes of a muse that feeds on wrack and ruin. We come full circle – nothing has changed. But Battle Of Brisbane proves there is no-one as fervently potent in producing personal disenfranchisement and disgust.