The Herd – The Sun Never Sets

You know that when we flip
It gets a little bit unpredictable

The Herd launch into album number three with this mission statement, racing their multi lingual rhymes to hyperventilating pace, over a track of clarinet and racing gypsy guitar strum.   Unpredictability shines through in their production and subject matter, bouncing with the unexpected variety, flair and verve of Warnie’s finest on a battered fifth day pitch. For this is a distinctly Australian sounding record; yet one which refuses to dredge the increasingly cliched images of barbeques, beer and fish’n’chips that have choked so much ‘Aussie’ hip-hop. On this record the Australian accent actually says something more than the usual ‘we like booze and beaches’. Their famed cry of ‘wake up this country needs a fucking shake up’ echoes through every beat and verse.

We Can’t Hear You? has gathered the airtime, with its call and response pleaser chorus of la-la-las. It just takes a catchy chorus to sneak onto the radio. But the verses question and bite chiding more than the obvious targets,  

you barrack for our Peter Garrett stances,
out of habit parrot all the proper answers.

Sure there are still lyrics strewn across the album that attack the long-lunch pollies and douse Kirribilli in kerosene, but the Herd aren’t about to let anyone off lightly.

It’s far from a collection of self-righteous sermonising though; the beats and production deliver the goods. Instrumental Where is Everybody? glides by with a smooth funk that leans back comfortably next to the hammocks of RJD2 or Katalyst. While No Disclaimers clarinet and trumpet lilts like Kid Koala’s scratchy speakeasy jazz till the double bass drops in to herald a brief verse.

Murkier sounds back the darker sentiments of several tracks that directly tackle the war, divorce and rural alienation. Apocalypta takes the perspective of soldiers fighting wars away from the attention of politicians’ photo opportunities.

calls for back up to Canberra are met with silence and indecision;
domestic intervention’s outside the mandate of this mission

It comes as a sobering pause at the halfway point of the album, and after a brief return to small town Australia (Can’t Breathe) the war is again the focus of Starship Troopers (Redux). Closing track, The Metres Gained, goes as for as sampling anti-war classic The Band Played Waltzing Matilda to introduce its narrative of Australian war history.

Full Moon is a eulogy for forgotten country towns, left behind in progresses’ cloud of dust. The ghost town you only find on road trips to nowhere.

she was a 1985 tidy town winner
but now its quiet, after five you can’t find dinner

An Australian slant on the dusty nowhere town stich of Buck 65; without the gravely nostalgia, but with room for a little harmonica wail and political bite.

it went Telstra, NAB, Australia Post
but when that bypass went in is when we failed the most.

Things do percolate to party pace between these down beat stories. Mischief and Effortless lift the mood in the home straight; Effortless featuring the album’s lone guest rapper, UK’s Braintax. Avoiding the cameo’s that clog so many hip-hop records, The Herd deliver the goods from their Elefant Mansion studio in Sydney. Ozi Batla, Urthboy, Toe-Fu and Bezerkatron man the mic with the music supplied by five credited producers in the group, including Uncle Ho, who’s Roads to Roma of earlier this year is also well worth your hard earned. The Sun Never Sets continues Elefant Traks run of distinctive, searching Australian hip-hop releases.