Bananagun’s ‘The True Story Of Bananagun’ is a joyous, kaleidoscopic pop adventure

Bananagun’s ‘The True Story Of Bananagun’ is a joyous, kaleidoscopic pop adventure

Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski
Words by James Lynch

If any band should be given the license to title their debut album with a name as emphatic as The True Story Of…, it’s Bananagun.

Forming out of the ashes of cult garage group The Frowning Clouds, of which Bananagun leader Nick Van Bakel was a core songwriter, the band’s rise has been slow and steady, but all-encompassing. Where other Clouds members were quick to dive into new projects – take the bizarro art-pop of Hierophants, ORB’s revivalist sludge metal or the schizoid-punk of Ausmuteants, for example – Van Bakel kept his cards closer to his chest.

Finally, after more than a few years’ wait, his deck has been fully revealed, bringing to light 11 delightfully colourful servings of genre-blurring kaleidoscopic pop.

Defined by its tangles of sunny harmonies, swarms of exuberant percussion and an overwhelming amount of relentless, undeniable grooves, The True Story of Bananagun shines in its ability to continually venture off-road at any given opportunity to take us for a joyride.

Yet somehow, the band always make it back home in time for a healthy serving of fulfilling hooks – whether that be in the form of ear-worming melodies that divulge Bananagun’s affinity for vintage pop craft, or vibrant mantras that place the band in the intoxicating world of afrobeat and exotica. Seamlessly, these two universes collide effortlessly and the atmosphere is contagious.

From the opening rumble of ‘Bang Goes The Bongos’, with its spiralling chords and skittering rhythms, through to the propulsive frenzy of ‘Modern Day Problems’, and past the soul-tinged standout ‘Out of Reach’, where Van Bakel’s sandy croak fully opens to beam with wide-eyed earnestness, Bananagun hold us captivated with every unexpected tempo shift and joyous freakout.

Australia has always been a hotspot for inventive psychedelia, but with the staggering influence of Tame Impala and King Gizzard looming large over the past few years, the style has threatened to meander towards something slightly more predictable. However, the release of The True Story of Bananagun is a radiant reminder of the genre’s fertility, and a thrilling debut from one of our country’s best.