Words By: Laurent Shervington
Pat Chow’s style of Smashing Pumpkins meets Australian alternative has been crashing through Perth’s garage-rock circuit for a few years now and finally they’ve got around to releasing their debut album, which tackles some familiar themes but backed with some truly heavy emotions.
Are You Okay? circles through the themes of tangled relationships, self destruction and feelings of uselessness in its 12 track length, with Ben Protasiewicz’s song-writing reaching through the annuals of grunge and garage rock to craft some emotionally crushing songs as well as some truly catchy choruses.
The record starts off with ‘Pleasure Unit’, which dives straight into Protasiewicz’s problematic feelings, detailing his despondence and lack of motivation.
All of my time feels like a waste
I might as well get off my face
Sick and tired of feeling the same way
While lines like the above would not seem out of place on a Wavves or Fidlar album, Pat Chow cuts deeper where the aforementioned Californian punks would take flight, keeping the momentum up into the next track ‘Bad Thoughts’ in which the Chow employ their secret weapon – a harmony led chorus that exudes as much anguished fervor as it does pure enthusiasm.
From here Protasiewicz battles with his social demons, bending between being unable to distinguish between who he’s really conversing with (‘Outta words’) and not wanting to really converse with anyone at all (‘Don’t Talk’). This side of Are You Okay? is perhaps the most contradictory, lending itself to a stark vision of a sociopath who’s real intentions are fickle to the core.
Changing lanes to the more intimate of relationships, the intentions become more direct and desperate than his intrinsic musings; the bulk of the characters have either left or are in the process of leaving, with the image of Protasiewicz’s character being able to put relationships down to a ‘matter of circumstance’ in some cases, but calling out for privacy and tranquillity in the same thought line. Furthermore on ‘Go Ahead’ Protasiewicz’s persona finds himself snapping out of the illusion of disillusion and stands up for the relationship, while still feeling the tug of doubt knowing his lover might not be around for the last dance.
On the closer ‘FML’ Protasiewicz confronts his demons directly in the 13 and a half minute closer, conjuring a destructive and frustrated guitar solo, finding a tone that matches the feelings portrayed throughout the majority of the previous 11 tracks. He fights the good fight well, with a perseverance best reserved for exorcism at it’s core, realising his statement from the opening track in succeeding to become ‘too fucked up to care’.
Are You Okay? is a solid release from Pat Chow, solidifying them as at the forefront of Perth’s expansive garage-rock scene.