DZ Deathrays emerged from the sweaty heat of Brisbane back in the heady days of 2008: a pair of loose units intent on tearing house parties apart with their barely-hinged two-piece punk. Nine years, two albums, two ARIA awards, critical and commercial appreciation, and countless high-octane shows around the world later… how things have changed.
Shane Parsons (guitar/vocals) and Simon Ridley (drums) rose to prominence with their excellently wild 2012 debut Bloodstreams, then backed it up with 2014’s immaculate Black Rat, which showcased a band maturing beyond their wildly rambunctious house party beginnings with sweeping, festival-ready riffs.
New album Bloody Lovely is the DZ Deathrays expanded universe: the perfect amalgamation of all that has come before it, but kicking in the afterburners, and shooting into the stratosphere as we all hold on for dear life.
Named for a perfectly Australian turn of phrase (favoured by the father of Parsons’ girlfriend: “it’s brutal and beautiful, and super Aussie”, says Shane) it’s a fully-formed progression from their first two albums. They’ve created the perfect soundtrack to a night that rolls from introspective to deranged: from wilful, optimistic beginnings and euphoric peaks, through the quiet ruminative examinations of the bottom of a glass and the bleary-eyed, regretful close as the sun comes up… with a hint of optimism hovering behind the pain of consequences being damned.
Parsons and Ridley wrote the album in fits and starts across 2016 while living in different cities (Shane in Sydney, Simon in Brisbane), between touring America (three times), the UK and Europe, and smashing their home country with festival appearances, a tour with Violent Soho and their own sold-out headline tour in Australia. Furiously emailed ideas, riffs and beats were fleshed out in a rehearsal studio; ideas melded into songs with finesse and brute force.
“We went in to write a set of festival bangers,” grins Parsons, “but we really just wanted it to sound tough and stick with you like classic rock songs do.”
“We found a cool Beastie Boys vibe,” adds Ridley of an early session, “with breakbeats pushing this relentless energy across everything. It turned into a party album you could play at a festival.”
They recorded Bloody Lovely at the start of 2017, returning to the scene of Black Rat: The Grove Studios (just north of Sydney), and producer Burke Reid. That familiarity was crucial: “We’re really good friends now,” says Parsons. “He gets us, his viewpoint lifts up the songs and no one’s afraid to hold back as a result.”
And what a result. With a both-barrels opening salvo in the mind-bending Jane’s Addiction-via-Black Sabbath guitar-prayer of lead single ‘Shred For Summer’ and the scorching “I’m deadddddd” of ‘Total Meltdown’, to the shred-heavy bounce of ‘Feeling Good, Feeling Great’ and ‘Like People’’s slow-burn cynicism, Bloody Lovely starts strong and never stops.
The contact-euphoria swagger of ‘High’ gives way to choppy, Fidlar-evoking bubblegum brutality on ‘Guillotine’, the throat-shredding singalong stomp of ‘Bad Influence’ and the piercing, dangerous wobble of ‘Over It’.
It charges to an end with the primeval disillusionment of ‘Back & Forth’ and the woozy comedown of ‘Afterglow’ before landing in the existential pit of despair — complete with woods of deep, dark confusion and hounded by wolves of decisions past — that ‘Witchcraft Pt II’ slowly drags itself out of.
Three albums in, DZ Deathrays have crafted a record that’s mature and profound, but still possesses the swagger of youth. It’s made to jump around to, made to engulf you in its tawdry embrace, a record made for dark clubs and wide-open festivals. Brutal and beautiful: Bloody Lovely is just that.
DZ Deathrays is:
Shane Parsons – Vocals/Guitarist
Simon Ridley – Drums/Programming