Possessing roughly the same obsessions as a B-grade nerd comedy, Australia’s premier surf-punks sing about farting, kissing, sex and rejection with various levels of goodnatured crudity. The Sydney trio — Blackie (guitar), Keish (drums/vocals) and Ray (bass/artwork) — has been tooling around since 1980, having a good pubescent laugh and playing some really great tuneful punk rock.
Ray’s “granny” drawing on the original Australian issue of Smell My Finger was nixed for the US, where the title was changed as well (to Hard-Ons). But the songs — from teen angst punk with Descendents-like melodies to more lash’n’thrash like “Dancing Girls” — remained untouched.
More bubblepunk than raw bashing, Hot for Your Love, Baby has “I Wanted Everything,” in which Keish and crew sound like spoiled schoolkids on a rampage. While the upfront vocals on “Love Song for Cindy” could be an elementary school poetry project, there’s catchy redemption in its sophomoric simplicity. The album’s British edition (on Vinyl Solution) adds the raveup “All Set to Go.”
With between-track vignettes and high-speed slashers like “Fuck Society” and “Yuppies Suck,” the heavier-sounding Dickcheese thrusts the Hard-Ons towards metal. The vinyl has eighteen tracks; the CD and cassette add three, including a rendition of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite.” (No Cheese! is an eight-song document of the Hard-Ons’ tour with British hardcore humorists the Stupids.)
Love Is a Battlefield brings the Hard-Ons back to pop punk, though the tunes are generally less memorable than the group’s early singles. While some songs seem genuinely romantic (the nifty “I Don’t Wanna See You Cry”) and others lay belly-up, there’s mindless fun in the Satan-shrouded “Kill Your Mum” and the scrubbed-clean “Missing You, Missing Me.” The CD adds a bonus bone.
Yummy!‘s “Feast on Flesh” revs to hardcore velocity, and a few guitar twists distinguish “Something I Don’t Want to Do,” but few other tracks stand out as they breeze along. Still, the band’s acoustic bludgeoning of “Stairway to Heaven” is carefree, basic and amusing — a fair description of the Hard-Ons as well.