Album Review: JuliaWhy? – Wheel

JuliaWhy? ends with a question mark, but it’s not the kind of question mark that’s soft, and only mildly troubled. Instead, it’s a question mark that screams and stomps, and a threatening gesture of exasperation rather than kindly mentorship. It’s the response to the bratty child in the mall that won’t stop screaming, the frumpy teenager with a smudged frown and a bad haircut, the employee who would rather read dumb Sydney blogs than do any real work. JuliaWhy? have taken that frustrated scream, bottled it onto their long-awaited debut record and popped the fucking cork.

‘Wheel’ is a pleasantly surprising record that’s absolutely packed with pop-influenced raucous that contain enough blast-power to be used in Chilean mines.  The majority of the album slides by with powerful, gnashing punches, as frontwoman Julia Wylie ferociously thrashes her voice around an untameable maelstrom of guitar melodies. She is restless and unstoppable, moving through the record with a Kim Gordon-esque banshee squeal and sugary sweet verses that Kim Deal wish she thought of first.

Maybe it’s the short run-time of the overall product (18 minutes) and song lengths (the majority between 1-2 minutes), and that short time frame allows for JuliaWhy? to be as punchy as possible. But there are heaps of punk bands who can get uninteresting too quickly. Instead, it comes down to the fact that JuliaWhy? know how to shake things up, like a garage version of George Clinton. From the velvet, breathy “Turntable”, to the searing thumbing of “Painkiller” and “La La Love”, to the hilarious horny jangle of “Flowers”, it’s been a while since a record has moved around this much, and yet retained focus and remained so tight-knit.

What it comes down to is infectious and fantastic songs. They’re short knockouts that scrape away bullshit, and replace it with the kind of delirious, fuzzy pop that put Karen O and Sleater-Kinney on the map. Try not to get your feet stamping along to “Just One Night” or “I’m Not Gay But My Boyfriend Is”. It’s nigh impossible. ‘Wheel’ is well-executed in every fashion, a long-awaited but masterfully delivered snapshot of a band that’s not afraid to hide their great ability to write a song, nor terrified at the thought of smothering it in layer upon layer of frantic fuzz.

JuliaWhy? are gonna be launching ‘Wheel’ at Brighton Up Bar on April 5th, with support from The Cathys and Melon Melon Melon (the band so nice they named it thrice). See ’em off before they head to Canada, and pick up a copy of ‘Wheel’ at their Bandcamp!


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