Melbourne duo Big Scary have returned with the launch of their latest album, Animal. The LP is the first release since 2013’s acclaimed Not Art, with the pair setting off on a national tour at the end of this month, stopping in Adelaide at Fat Controller on Saturday, October 15.
Animal marks a radical departure from Big Scary’s mellow indie-pop sounds, with the album touching on everything from heavy synth lines and abrasive drums to delicate flute solos and breathy, eerie vocals. Divided into four parts that can be listened to as a self-contained units, the album takes the listener on a journey, exploring the primal animalistic desires of humans in contrast with the complexity of the human mind. Basically, if you thought Not Art was a philosophical record, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Drummer Jo Syme says that she was initially hesitant about how the album would fare upon its release. With its purposely obnoxious opening tracks functioning as an introduction to the “world of ‘the animal’”, Jo admits that she wasn’t sure if fans would be receptive to the duo’s latest artistic direction. This is also something she had to come to terms with personally.
“Every album is a reaction against the previous piece of work. I feel like I’m often catching up to what Tom [Iansek] is seeing, so when I started jamming with some ideas . . . [for] a lot of that I was like, picturing these hip hop-inspired songs like on Not Art, and then I’d send it to Tom and he’d send back something totally different, ” says Syme..
Writing for Animal commenced shortly after the release of Not Art and was an on-and-off project in between international touring and other commitments.
“As it always happens with a Big Scary album, we ended up with a group of songs that were very broad in mood and genre, so we realised that this concept of the animal and all it contains can kind of help tie together the eclectic songs… Then it kind of became a concept of a journey of the animal understanding.”
Although the instrumentation on Animal is much denser than Not Art, Jo says that recording the new album felt much more intuitive than its predecessor. The upcoming tour will see the two-piece extend their lineup to feature saxophonist and keyboardist Gus Rigby, Vasco Era bassist Ted O’Neil and sampling guru Christopher Port.
“Bringing it back to the natural two-piece [on the record] was almost 100% because playing Not Art live never felt [comfortable] — I liked it, Tom never felt 100% comfortable — because you can’t just forget about what you’re doing and enjoy it. You have to be thoughtful with the dynamics,” Syme explains.
“With the newer ones, it’s just a bit more about what the natural energy is. I think that’s the biggest meaning of the new album – recognising that we’re not just a studio band and we want to enjoy ourselves live. Live is a different arena from a studio as well and we can appreciate both.”
You can catch Big Scary at Fat Controller on Saturday, October 15. Tickets available via Moshtix.