To say that Barnyard is a little bit of a departure from what fans might have expected from Melbourne’s Good Morning might be putting it lightly, but to say it’s their best work to date isn’t doing it justice.
Comprising Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons, Good Morning are slowly closing in on a decade of being a band, and they’ve spent the majority of this time releasing music whenever they can. Their last efforts – 2019’s Basketball Breakups and The Option – captured the pair’s charming songwriting skills and paired it with their relatively lo-fi/DIY sound, giving their work an endearing quality.
This time around though, new album Barnyard, their work feels far more polished and accomplished. What does this mean? Have they sold out? Compromised their integrity? Hardly. If anything, they’ve evolved and created one of their finest efforts to date.
Working with (for the first time in a long while) an engineer and a label outside of their circle of friends, Barnyard was recorded at Wilco’s, The Loft studio, working with in-house engineer, Tom Schick. This doesn’t mean that Barnyard is their answer to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but it’s an album just as powerful and moving.
Kicking off with the reflective “Too Young to Quit”, a gentle pairing of acoustic guitar and vocals gives a heartfelt insight into the mind of Good Morning, before expanding their sound with “Depends On What I Know”, inviting listeners into what it is that the record has in store.
From there, the record becomes an almost kaleidoscopic mixtape of hazy, genre-hopping indie-rock. “Wahlberg” feels reminiscent of a lost B-side from The Strokes, “Yng_Shldn” is a blissful, reflective cut, “Matthew Newton” is a surprisingly sympathetic ode to the titular actor, and closer “Country” is an exuberant – yet insightful – finish to an album that feels as though it toes the line between a focus of optimism and negativity, with its music helping it to keep heading in the right direct.
‘Country’s pensive refrain sees Liam reflect on his younger desires, wants and needs, and how they panned out into adulthood. He explains,
“I’m still not sure if I’m singing to old friends, an old lover or my old self. I think probably all three,” Parson explained of “Country” upon its release. “At the time, I was having a rough one reconciling my life with what I had expected adult life to be.
“This song is an attempt from me to reconnect with my younger self as well as some key ghosts from my past and to move forward by looking back – pretty futile stuff really.”
Despite its apparent futility to reconcile with former ghosts, its attempt to face any sort of fears about what the future may hold, or the sad state of affairs the world finds itself in, Barnyard is a record that is undeniably joyous. It feels like the steady hand at your back, telling you things will be okay, or the comforting hug from a pair of acclaimed musicians as they tell you we’re all in this together. Ultimately, Barnyard isn’t just a record to listen to casually, it’s one to lose yourself in – right now.
Good Morning’s Barnyard is out now.