Shakespeare famously wrote “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and The Chats have seemingly taken that sentiment and run with it. High Risk Behaviour has everything you could want in a rock record: storytelling, energy and killer riffs, but without the seriousness. The Australian trio’s debut LP serves as a reminder of the essence of punk in all of its rebellious and self-aware glory, from the charming hand-drawn album cover to self-releasing the album on the band’s own label, Bargain Bin Records.
Many of the songs on the album, featuring Ramones-inspired chugging guitar riffs and Black Flag-esque choruses you can shout along to, sound like a hot summer day with nothing to do, like listening to a friend’s older brother tell stories while chugging beers, or watching a Dane Cook stand-up special.
High Risk Behaviour is, in many ways, a concept record that’s as straightforward as its title. “Drunk n Disorderly” is a laundry list of all the alcohol you can consume in as many places as possible, from the airport to the bus stop. “The Clap” is an honest account of receiving a sexually transmitted disease despite wearing two condoms, with an added surprise of a chorus chanting back “He’s got the clap!” The pulls-no-punches opener “Stinker” navigates the blistering Australian heat with “24 beers and a couple of mates,” although vocalist Eamon Sandwith is sure to remind listeners “We don’t get used to the heat up here / We just learn to put up with it.” All the songs on this record tell tales of brazenly irresponsible behavior over repetitive guitars, but somehow the charm never wears off—and neither does the humor.
What makes High Risk Behavior stand on its own and not come off as a blatant Sex Pistols/Black Flag/Ramones/Real Kids homage (or rip-off, depending on how much of a punk puritan you may be) is the band’s chemistry. They could not give less of a fuck, and it doesn’t sound forced, nor does it sound like a couple of kids mimicking their favorite punk records from their basement. The Chats wear their influences on their sleeves and have expertly injected their own unique Aussie humor into songs like “Keep the Grubs Out,” which is about getting kicked out of a bar for sporting a mullet.
Not all music needs to change the world, and High Risk Behaviour certainly doesn’t seem like it’s trying to. However, it might encourage some people to lighten up, which is definitely needed.