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Witch Hats: Deliverance

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Ten years ago Witch Hats held court in the smoke, piss and vomit stained environs of Pony, banging out bruising gothic punk melodies and spitting invective against the office bearers of the Alphington Junior Football Club. At the time the prospect of them writing a song that sounded like The Go-Betweens would have been as incongruous as Bobbie Gillespie donning a Hawaiian shirt and fronting The Beach Boys. 
 
Yet, lo and behold, here it is - Religious Sickness, the third track off the band’s belated new record, Deliverance. It’s sweet, jaunty, and unashamed pop sensibility is buffed ever so slightly by the occasional jagged guitar lick and thundering bass line.  But save for the equally poppy Peeperman – a pun-ish sequel to Pepperman from their debut EP – Deliverance is the logical quantum leap you’d hope and expect. 
 
Weekend Holocauster spits and snarls like a Wipers-inspired punk philosophical rant on the detritus of modern society. Trying to Forget is dark and threatening, with a surprising outro of soft sand pop. Child in the Ceiling is ‘70s FM radio rock with an acidic bite.
 
The title track is an intense trip down the river into intriguing musical territory, played out against the contrasting scenery of early ‘80s Australian pub rock and angst-ridden English post-punk.  Insecure Fear tries to make sense of our contemporary paranoia – why are we so afraid when we should be so safe?
 
Strange Life sees the album out with a rambling seven-minute acid rock and pop journey that’s as sprawling as it is mesmerising. It’s good to have Witch Hats back.  Long may they reign.
 
BY PATRICK EMERY