The making of Skegss’ latest offering found the band at a crossroad. As Ben Reed (vocals/guitar) puts it “I was pretty scared that I was going to lose my job at a brewery because I was spontaneously taking off for gig opportunities. I remember talking to Farmer Greg, who used to come in to get the wheat malt for his cows. He used to work for 60 Minutes (an Aussie TV show), filming on the helicopter. He asked what I got up to and I downloaded my predicament to him and he goes: ‘Do it. This is no rehearsal. You go for that, you can do this later.’ I fully needed to hear that.” And with the reassurance and wisdom of Farmer Gregg, ‘Rehearsal’ was born and it’s this sentiment that’s captured throughout the LP’s 13 tracks.
From the off, album opener ‘Down to Ride’ sets the tone; with a steady beat, an elastic ping of guitar and Reed’s croaked drawl. It’s here the first seeds of measured positivity and encouragement are sown “your imagination is the best recreation/remove the mask you’re wearing and overcome your fear”. Upping the ante in the pace stakes is ‘Valhalla’, a song dedicated to the band’s vision of an opulent palace where you’ll never be left wanting “All the ale you can inhale/all the food you can consume/all my friends at the table/everything I’d die for in one room”. ‘Rehearsal’ also serves as a friendly arm around the shoulder to the listener, like the sonic embodiment of Farmer Greg; ‘Sip of Wine’ offers some sage advice during its rolling country canter “anticipating what hasn’t happened yet/is the worst thing for your head/if you want to survive you can’t stand still in this life/nobody teaches a toddler to dance/they just know so you once knew/you’ve got to dodge the raindrops if you want to stay dry”. It’s not an album to sell you a fake Hollywood facsimile of life with a perfect smile, it’s a record that reflects on the good parts while pointing out the many pitfalls along the way. This is solidified by the slower, more pensive saunter through ‘Curse My Happiness’ “I’m not perfect/but I’m still happy/I’m not nervous but I still shake”. ‘Lucky’, the final track from ‘Rehearsal’, transports you to Byron Bay’s stunning beach for a midnight sing-song with your pals. You can almost feel the warmth of a campfire as the embers crackle and flicker to the sound of a brittle acoustic guitar and a lonesome harmonica. Reed’s hoarse voice details a sentimental ending to the album, as the frontman declares “you’re more than my mate/you’re more than my soul/and we get to make our life/what it is as we grow old”.
Optimistic, life-affirming and carefree ‘Rehearsal’ is just the tonic to the everyday blues and I imagine it hits the spot as nicely as an ice cold Little Creatures Pale Ale.
Pre-order Rehearsal by Skegss HERE
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