Written by Carmen Mueller
The Sydney band Stand Atlantic have released their first full length album Skinny Dipping. When I first approached this album I had no idea that the group is led by singer and guitarist Bonnie Fraser. Her voice brings such a unique element to the whole project which is super cool.
“Lavender Bones” opens up the project with a guitar driven beat and David Potter’s standout bassline. It tells the story of someone trying everything to appease their lover even if they get nothing in return. The relationship is not only one sided, but also hurtful. And this song plays perfectly with the closing track. The project’s last song “Roses” contemplates whether or not you should lessen your own identity in order to appeal to other people. However, this track says “I’m not out of touch with myself/ I’m keeping it all in for your health”; which tells us that there is some awareness to the situation. It’s one of the most intense songs on the project with strong guitars and Bonnie’s powerful voice. Relationships, whether they are good or bad, are the focus of this project. The opening and closing song bookend that idea, while the body of the album tells the story of how these relationships play out.
The first song that I heard of theirs was their latest single “Skinny Dipping”. What I like about Bonnie’s voice is that instead of having a super feminine voice, her tone reminds me more of Never Shout Never Christofer Drew’s, which is really cool to hear. The track itself has kickass drums from Jonno Panichi that drives the fast paced sound and intimate lyrics. Fraser talks about the fear of being vulnerable and how that can make a person hard to open up. This very introspective theme comes up more than once on this project. “Toothpick” is possibly the rawest song in every way possible. The track is stripped down to a simple guitar and Bonnie singing about running back to toxic love and wanting to be stronger. It’s a very sweet yet devastating song that gives me, a Stand Atlantic novice, such a clear view of what this band can offer.
“Burn In the Afterthought” tells the story of how a bad love can leave scars; a past relationship seems to be a major influence for this whole project. However, in this track, there is a moment of clarity that screams “I deserve better”. Fraser’s frustration comes out in growled vocals backed up with great guitar and bass.
The only track to have a feature is the rocking track “Clay” with Creeper’s Hannah Hermione Greenwood. Fraser and Greenwood’s voices sounds perfect together, with Fraser showing harsher approach to Greenwood’s softer voice when singing about wanting someone to be bluntly honest even if the truth hurts. This is a standout song to me, not only because of the two kick ass ladies singing on the track, but because of the mix of angry lyrics paired with a sweet ukulele opening. It’s dynamic and one of the most unique tracks on the project. “Speak Slow” talks about wanting to pull yourself out of a love that is actually damaging. Burnt, bound, broken wings paints a picture of feeling trapped which often happens in terrible relationships. It’s a more aggressive track with loud guitars and crashing drums, which is a stark difference from the track “Cigarette Kiss”. “Cigarette Kiss” is a song about being in denial about the severity of a seemingly unfulfilling relationship. It laments the fact that the relationship doesn’t work out, yet finds a way to run back even though the relationship never works out. This song builds from a mellow drum driven track to one that grows into one of desperation and regret.
The two songs on this album that are pretty cut throat are “Bullfrog” and “Lost My Cool”. “Bullfrog” is a faced paced guitar anthem that opens with layered singing, chanting “You’re a bullfrog/ Your sweet talk, it echoes/ I hope you go wherever I don’t”. There is not confusion about wanting this person back, which is mirrored in “Lost My Cool”. Here, Fraser sings about how a long distance relationship couldn’t work because the other person went and found someone else. It’s a track that starts off slow and then takes a turn at the chorus into an intense diss track when the heavy guitars join in. It was one of the singles off of this project and for good reason. It’s a upbeat track and has that screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-the-car quality.
This is a really great album for the band, especially for it being their debut album! Some of the highlights of the project is Bonnie Fraser’s vocal style and the smart instrumentation. I’m interested in where the group can grow from here. Something I would like to see from them is a bit of variety in their lyrical content; since they so thoroughly depicted the ups and downs of relationships, I’d like to hear what they have to say about other topics Overall, this project gets a thumbs up from me!