At one time individually hand pressed and painted by best man Craig Dermody, the first album by Australian soap send-up Scott & Charlene’s Wedding finally reaches an audience beyond the holders of its original 200 copies, thanks to a signing with Critical Heights Records. Para Vista Social Club may listen like a worn, grainy item in a Rob Fleming-esque music hoarder’s collection, but at its core it’s a raw blue-collar bastard child of Velvet Underground and Go Betweens that should sit comfortably with its target audience.
Whereas the precedent for clarity in recent garbled indie-pop bands comparable to Dermody’s music, such as All The Saints or Dead Confederate, is decidedly nil, the person crying out at the centre of these particular tracks might have benefited from an output that didn't sound like it was coming out of a car radio sitting two cars away. Deviating from the norm is a fine thing, but when armed with a grimy electric guitar and overbearing feedback buzz it’s a slippery slope, particularly in an album such as this that makes a big hoo-ha about where to live life on or off the rails.
This is demonstrated by the first single and the immediate track after it. “Footscray Station” brings on the quintessential locomotive driven notion of driving one’s life out of a rut, in which evens the ability to clarify their thoughts echoes a circular line. The lyrics: “I think I lost my brain, think I lost my soul. But I found it again…in rock and roll. But I’m still driving trucks, making no bucks; I gotta go back to school. I feel like a fool!” is a surely antiquated and nursery rhyme inspired piece of career advice, but in the backdrop of a train station (the pure definition of monotony) it’s very well suited. Likewise “Epping Line” simultaneously dotes on this theme and deconstructs it nicely, but like the single the mesh of droning effects seem to cut off the intended revelation.
Keeping up with the songs up until this point, you’ve likely come to a conclusion on Dermody’s approach to singing. Though it makes an unusual break for clean sound in “Wiseman at the Station”, understanding where the bummed character ends and the musical performance starts can be a chore. Faintly audible in “Every Detail” and borderline bored in “Foreign Lands”, whether this undue attention to the instrumentals or an ironic production choice, it’s not likely to be your first port of call when recommending.
But there are things on this record worth sharing. It’s uniquely consistent from start to finish, and there’s an invoked setting so familiar to anyone living lonely in a thriving metropolis that the descriptive capabilities of the English language break down trying to do it justice. The highlight for this is the wrought “Back in Town”, where the only lyrics: “Heard you were back in town, do you think that it would be alright...” are somehow so ambiguous yet commonplace. For any shortcomings there may be, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding have nailed the human experience.