Augie March – Bootikins
If you’re an Augie March fan, you’ve hopefully been preparing for album number six for a while now. Not that there’s much you can do, short of reading a wheelbarrow full of quality literature and maybe a thesaurus or two.
It will come as no surprise that Bootikins is a dense, varied, beautiful and incredibly accomplished piece of work from a band who has had more highs and lows than most.
‘Fake Jive’ is a sad way to kick off the record, but it’s also stunning. ‘Mephistopheles Perverted’ – an adaptation of a Kenneth Slessor poem of the same name – is barely any cheerier, but picks up the tempo enough for it to feel practically rousing. ‘The Third Drink’ has Glenn Richards sounding every bit the ‘worn out man’ he described when writing about the album recently.
“Deliberately I was mining the misanthropic and the resigned, the ‘worn out man’ in me next to the ambitious, energetic grafter in me,” he wrote.
‘The Heaviest Stone’ brightens up the whole affair, and not just thanks to Jess Cornelius’ ‘Ooh baby baby’ backing vocals in its chorus. It’s the second-best use of horns on the record, second only to the saxophone solo that drives ‘Bitter Clingerzz’, the album’s closing track, home.
“My favourite part of the track is the saxophone solo,” Richards tells Double J. “I pushed for the second half of the track, which has no vocals whatsoever, to be the actual track. Which nobody else agreed to.”
The pummelling prog of ‘Bootikins’ came as a bit of a shock when it emerged a couple of months back. This musical divergence is in no way an indication of how the record sounds as a whole, but it’s a fascinating and welcome divergence.
“We’re capable of a bit of bad metal when we need to do that,” Richards quips.
On an album as solid as Bootikins, it can be tough to pick highlights. But the beautifully gentle and considered ‘When I Am Old’ is a definite standout. It’s the band at their most accomplished in just about every sense, the lyrics, music and production all come together perfectly and its final line, 'When I am old, I'll take heroin' wasn't enough to preclude it from being a single.
“It says more about what Augie March is than most of the other choices,” Richards says of the song.
Bootikins is, once again, a great gift from Augie March. A band who seem to have settled in to a space where they can create work of great beauty and intelligence on their own terms and are sounding better for it.