road On the again

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - DAVID CRAD­DOCK Rain on the Hum­ming Wire Out now ( Dew Process)

THERE’S one thing you can rely on ev­ery time ARIA-win­ning band The Pan­ics re­leases a record – a bril­liant road song.

Per­haps, it was all those wind­ing drives into the city from their child­hood homes on the fringes of Perth but travel and dis­tance are re­cur­ring themes for a group that has of­ten de­camped to Manch­ester – or in the case of their lat­est al­bum, Wood­stock – to get a new per­spec­tive of the place they are most fa­mil­iar with.

On al­bum Cruel Guards, we joined them on a dusty train ride through Aus­tralia in Feel­ing

Is Gone.

On Get Us Home, that al­bum’s opener, we clip-clopped on horse­back through the Wild West. And, on My Best

Mis­take, we jumped in the car for a cruise through the coun­try.

If the evoca­tive foghorn and ket­tle drums that punc­tu­ate

Majesty, the first sin­gle from new

al­bum Rain on the Hum­ming Wire, are any­thing to go by, The Pan­ics’ lat­est jour­ney is their grand­est yet.

‘‘ It just seems my de­fault set­ting is to go into these en­vi­ron­ments and sub­jects that are more about places I’ve grown up in or places I’m liv­ing in,’’ front­man Jae Laf­fer says.

‘‘ Maybe ( it’s) a sim­ple story about a break-up or a love song and it’s nice to throw in some en­vi­ron­men­tal points to ref­er­ence.

‘‘ I en­joy that and there’s part of me that thinks that the place you live in is wor­thy of a song. If you weren’t into my band you’d go, ‘ what’s that all about?’ be­cause it’s just me singing about a street, maybe some kids are sitting near

a fire over there and ( a guy) is in love with the girl in the car in the cor­ner.’’

But it’s pre­cisely these charm­ing sub­ur­ban vi­gnettes that have en­deared The Pan­ics to so many Aus­tralians.

In 2007, they won a J Award and an ARIA for their third al­bum, Cruel

Guards, a re­lease which also spawned the hit Don’t Fight It. While the sepia-tinged mem­o­ries of the hills and wide out­back roads that char­ac­terised Cruel Guards still show up in Rain on the

Hum­ming Wire, writ­ing the al­bum in Manch­ester and record­ing it in a con­verted church out­side Wood­stock, New York, put the band’s ca­reer into per­spec­tive for Laf­fer. ‘‘ I got think­ing about my early teenage years,’’ he says.

‘‘ The nights we’d spent on the escarpment, light­ing a fire, think­ing about the fu­ture and look­ing over the city.’’

Reach­ing his 30s, Laf­fer knows he won’t be able to mine his past and dwell on themes of travel or be­ing away from home for­ever.

‘‘ I hon­estly feel like I’ve knocked a lot of it on the head and I think that this [ al­bum] is a nice cul­mi­na­tion of ideas,’’ he says.

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