Ask any fan of Aussie music and they’ll agree that it’s impossible to mention “Aussie rock music” without a prominent discussion of You Am I. Not only are they one of the country’s best artists, but if their 11th studio album says anything, it’s that even more than 30 years into their career, the local icons can deliver one of the best records you’ll hear anywhere this year.
Like most albums arriving in the first half of 2021, You Am I’s The Lives of Others is a record that has undoubtedly been impacted by the dreaded global pandemic. While some self-doubt from frontman Tim Rodgers preceded the record’s creation, a writing session during a fishing trip on the New South Wales coast gave rise to a bunch of new songs. Unfortunately, things were quickly disrupted by COVID, with You Am I forced to compose their next record from afar.
With Rogers and guitarist Davey Lane working from Melbourne, bassist Andy Kent and drummer Russell ‘Rusty’ Hopkinson supplied the rhythm section from afar. Ultimately, this new way of working resulted in a far more fractured experience than desired, but it provided one of the group’s strongest and most powerful records to date.
Maybe it’s the sense of resilience that flows through the songs, or maybe it’s the lack of external pressures that helps the record shine, but the songs feature some of the finest lyrics ever penned by Rodgers, some of the strongest guitar work, and feature the group’s rhythm section in their most powerful form to date.
From opening cut “The Waterboy”, it’s apparent that The Lives of Others is one that showcases a version of You Am I who are as refreshed and refined as ever, while the variation of styles – whether it be the blistering “Rosedale Redux”, the Beatles-esque “Rubbish Day”, or the psychy “Lookalikes” – show off a band who, even as they enter their fourth decade, aren’t afraid of trying new things, stretching their wings, and taking flight like they always have.
Ultimately, The Lives of Others stands as another mesmerising entry in an already-accomplished discography from one of the country’s greatest bands. One of their finest efforts to date, it’s clear that You Am I aren’t slowing down any time soon.
You A I’s The Lives of Others is available now.