Photo Credit: Brandon Lung
At the beginning of 2020 (a period which we’ve all already developed a great deal of nostalgia for), Sydney, Australia band Stand Atlantic made quite a bit of noise with their single “Shh!”, which is off of their second full-length album Pink Elephant. The song provides what’s essentially a crash course in the band’s sound: it opens with a stomping beat, introduces a verse which faintly echoes Taylor Swift’s smash pop album 1989 (particularly “Out of the Woods”), including an ‘80s-style synth hook. The song’s tempo then picks up about halfway through, and lead singer Bonnie Fraser also switches to an emo-style scream. In two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, we get a real feel for what Stand Atlantic stands for.
Much of the remainder of Pink Elephant is not quite as compelling. Interestingly, the album chooses not to open with “Shh!” but rather the song “Like That.” Though tight enough and also including a strong ‘80s-style guitar solo, in the end the title is fitting, as it sounds like so much else which is currently popular within this genre. Most of the songs are in a similar vein. “Drink to Drown” is a standout track only because it’s the sole piano ballad, a depiction of alcoholism (as the title would suggest) from a first-person perspective. Although using music as a confessional regarding substance abuse is not new in rock, this song does include some clever lyrics (“What I would give // Not to be your concrete cloud”).
In order to analyze Stand Atlantic’s lyrics, for the most part we’d have to Google them, since most of them are incomprehensible with Fraser’s vocal style (and the way that they’re mixed on the record). To be fair, “you can’t understand the words” is a rock trope which goes back to at least the late Little Richard, but in this case it’s a bit frustrating because one does get the impression that Stand Atlantic is trying to make a statement. There’s “DWYW”, which stands for “Do What You Want.” We might assume that Stand Atlantic are hoping to create a new youth mantra and make that abbreviation the next YOLO (though it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), but upon actually listening to (or Googling) the words, we discover that it’s about an attempt to escape from someone, possibly an obsessed former lover (“Throw the weight on my back // Keep away, sell my name // Because I’m choking… ‘Cause you do what you want”).
“Hate Me (Sometimes)” is a respectable enough closer, propelled by a tight riff and a nice sense of directness. But it also begs the question: Will listeners love Strand Atlantic sometimes? Most of the time? There’s no denying that much here sounds very similar to a lot that’s already out there, which in and of itself means they won’t stand out from the herd. However, Bonnie Fraser is not without star quality, and this will probably help them a great deal. So at the end of the day Pink Elephant, like an elephant, is big enough to get noticed. But as opposed to a pink elephant, it’s really not too unique.