I have spent the last 20 minutes scouring the back cover of Pinch Points' debut album Moving Parts for clues. Presented like a xeroxed 80s band poster, each song title is followed by one or two guitar chords and underlined by a combination of hyphens, plus signs and tildes (the squiggly hyphen). Why does ‘Ouch !’ have one plus sign while ‘Ouch ! !’ has 21? What is the significance of the phrase ‘…LIFE KEEPS ON GETTING STRANGER !’ which adorns the front cover with only marginally smaller than the album title itself? Why include the sincere adage ‘Love - Music - Friendship - Community’ on an album as cryptic and sarcastic as this one?
Safe to say, there are likely no correct answers to any of these questions. Pinch Points specialise in a kind of funny, hyper-local post-punk that would be parodic if the writing and playing wasn't so good. Across nine tracks, the band lurches from social commentary (‘Don't Want It’ and ‘Spelt Out’) to scathing observations of Melbourne band and pub culture (‘Shibboleth’ and ‘Put Out’) to self-critique (the album bookends, ‘Ouch !’ and ‘Ouch !!’). They ask questions of their listeners whilst simultaneously mocking them for taking them seriously.
The band comprises Acacia (Bass), Adam (guitar), Isabella (drums) and Jordan (guitar). It was originally formed by Adam, and while his voice is all over Moving Parts, the album is best when the band works as a unit. Many songs are sung in unison, and Acacia and Adam's line-trading on the second verse of ‘Spelt Out’ is a particular highlight.
Melbourne has always overflowed with good rock bands and on Moving Parts, Pinch Points have synthesised the last decade of Melbourne music trends into something approaching a thesis. They take Eddy Current Suppression Ring's garage vamping, The Peep Tempel's ocker delivery, Cable Ties politics and Ausmuteants nervy rhythms, blending them into something that rivals the sum of its (moving) parts. Their own musical legacy is something the band tackles directly on album closer ‘Ouch ! !’, which begins with a reading of review of the band's debut tape followed by a loving screed to the Melbourne music scene. Similarly, the single ‘Shibboleth’ takes aim at a posturing gatekeeper who ‘dressed like one of us’ and ‘spoke like one of us’. While calling out dolts is not novel in punk music, it is nice to hear our own city called out.
With the band sharing vocal duties across the record, there is musical-theatre quality to many of the tracks. The anti-fuckboy anthem ‘Put Out’ is character-study-over-post-punk, where Isabella and Acacia tell all the thirsty boys at the pub that they are NOT interested in them, while Adam and Jordan interject with familiar pleas and pick-up lines. Toxic men are a well-trod but depressingly vital subject in Melbourne punk music, but the band finds a fresh angle to take them down. Furthermore, the bands incredibly tight playing and coordinated presentation (they wear their band t-shirts on stage and in all their press photos) belie the nonchalant and ironic distant they put forward on their songs.
If there was one take-away from this LP, it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying. Pinch Points engages in a kind of low-key myth-making across the record that is refreshing for a punk release. But, crucially, they never skimp on the musicianship that makes this kind of music so exciting. With Moving Parts, they've snapped a candid photo of the current music scene and are waving it gleefully in everyone's face.
Hal Parker Langley