- Having avidly consumed Peanuts comics as a kid, I get a free burst of nostalgia, reading the name of Locust Revival’s latest, good grief, the quintessential existential aphorism of poor Charlie Brown, crushed by life’s disappointments and left to lie in the dust, every time cruel Lucy Van Pelt leaves him there. Could he have grown up to be Steven Schnorrer? The flood of misery and borderline suicidal quips he doles out on the new record say yes, although as far as I know he isn’t bald.
Really the level of relationship-dysfunction snaking, painfully contorted through these songs is (sans-racist nonsense) Morrisey-worthy. Take for instance: “THERE'S NO BETTER PLACE TO BE THAN HARMS WAY / I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU WONT STAY.” There’s also another thread of very final loss, wending its way through the album, as you’ll hear on the title-track: “LOVE IS SO CRUEL / WHEN I CAN’T READ YOUR EULOGY / THESE FOOLISH THOUGHTS OF YOU / THAT ONE DAY YOU'LL BE NEXT TO ME”. Good grief indeed. Finally there’s just rocketing levels of self-hatred. The album’s opening cut, Blood HD is simply the line “COZ I DONT WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE…” repeated over and over again. Well, let’s take a deeper dive, if you dare, into the harrowing Locust Revival.
I read somewhere an apt line from Tal Wallace of doomy Meanjin / Brisbane institution The Steady As She Goes, though for the life of me I can’t find it now. It was something like “Locust Revival, for those who think Robert Smith just isn’t depressing enough.” There’s something to that. I’ve been a little diverted trying to work out just where Schnorrer is, lost among the writhing tentacles that are the different sub-genres of goth music. There’s always been a split between the drum-machine propulsion of darkwave and the more rocking preoccupations of death-rock, but I think good grief might be something else again. Schnorrer’s guitar-work is melodically the sweetest it’s ever been, as a number of folks have noticed. So, a Cure comparison isn’t so off the mark really.
Of course everything is still buried six-feet-under by Locust Revival’s trademark lo-fi production, so you have to do some forensic digging to arrive at such a conclusion. The lyrics are largely indecipherable, though, as usual, Schnorrer has diligently posted them all to Locust Revival’s Bandcamp page, the better for you to feel his pain. He clearly wants to be understood, so I wonder if, on a future release what it would be like to toy with some more hi-fi production. Don’t get me wrong, I love this John Maus type eerie murkiness and such a move is fraught with risk. There’s nothing more dangerous than being genuinely understood; but still, I’m intrigued.
The record is still, largely, an in-house affair for Schnorrer: composed, performed and produced as a solo effort, although I think that’s live bandmate Kelly Spellman adding her vocals to tracks like Harms Way -a welcome addition- and she gets a composer credit on a total of four songs on the record. Also, if you turn up to a live show you’ll get the Locust Revival super-group, adding Ultra-Material’s Matt Deasy to the line-up.
Sweet guitar-lines notwithstanding, good grief is as uncompromisingly bleak as anything in the Locust Revival catalogue. I suppose, as we know, sadness can be addictive, for those who are that way inclined; and I certainly keep coming back for more. Steven Schnorrer, our own little Charlie Brown, is the lo-fi, romantic anti-hero we (and certain far-flung corners of the internet) want and need, even as he takes our arm in a grip that’s just a little too hard and asks: “ARE WE ALL JUST WAITING TO DIE? ENDLESSLY CHAINED TO THESE DAYS WHERE ALL THESE SORRYS ARE PAIN”? That certainly may be and I’ll just leave the final word to Steven: “IT’S MORE MEANINGLESS THAN TOMORROW AND WE JUST WITHER AWAY.”
- Chris Cobcroft.