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Song You Need to Know: Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice, ‘Outside Looking In’

It’s always a pleasure to hear from Melbourne’s Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice, especially when Dougal Shaw is cutting as loose as he is on new album ‘BUBBLE’

Evie Vlah

It’s always a pleasure to hear from Melbourne’s relentlessly reliable Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice, especially when Dougal Shaw is cutting as loose as he is on new album BUBBLE.

Dr Sure’s sound has always been experimental, but on this release, the music feels truly unbound, Shaw allowing himself to explore as many sonic curios as he wishes. Initially recorded over two weeks in 2020, the album was unearthed and finally completed two years later. It became a more solitary effort from Shaw, relenting on the use of his frequent live band.

“After a big 2022 on the road we’ve been digging into the next couple of ‘band’ albums and stumbled on these sessions. I had a moment of clarity, to stay true to the original ethos and just get them out. I love these songs and I don’t want them to die on a hard drive,” he says of the idea behind the release.

And it’s lucky that BUBBLE was found again: the album bursts with excitably programmed drums and spiralling synths, touching heavily on Krautrock and new wave. The post-punk and the political leanings of previous albums are mostly absent, replaced with playful electronics, like if Kraftwerk hung out at The Curtin.

One of the album’s highlights is “Outside Looking In” (it would be a disservice to not mention “All My Friends Are All My Friends”, a deliriously wonky number that feels like a droll Aussie riposte to LCD Soundsystem), a flagrantly introspective track that still retains Dr Sure’s wry humour.

After a momentous drum machine buildup, flashing synths lead the way into Shaw’s stilted and solemn vocals: “Nobody’s in there / But I’m standing on the outside looking in,” he says ruefully, playfully, sincerely, maybe even a little insincerely. Later, Shaw rhymes several sorrowful examples of loneliness, including “an NPC in the CBD” and – my particular favourite – “an avatar on a dodgem car.”

You can watch the typically odd music video above, which sees Shaw indulging in some popcorn while watching a mysterious masked person struggle for freedom. Yes, watch at your peril.

If you’re in Naarm this weekend and fancy watching two equally eccentric outfits at once, Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice and psych-pop purveyors Kosmetika are playing together at Northcote Social Club on Saturday, April 28th (tickets available here).

Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice’s BUBBLE is out now via Marthouse Records.