For whatever reason I hadn't listened to Teenage Snuff Film in years. It was the kind of album that my friends and I obsessed over a while ago, poring over every note and line, and trying to emulate THAT guitar tone. Putting this reissue on in the shop on Saturday, I realised that distance does in fact make the heart grow fonder! And it seemed to be the same for our customers. I don't know if I've had so many questions/comments/reminisces about what's on the stereo during a single play.
What's there left to say about Rowland S. Howard that hasn't already been said elsewhere? Ex-Birthday Party guitarist whose two solo albums released a decade apart are the prime example of quality over quantity. A cult figure of Australia's underground who is largely remembered for his work with Nick Cave, but also collaborated with These Immortal Souls, Crime + The City Solution, HTRK, Nikki Sudden, Lydia Lunch, etc. But Teenage Snuff Film continues to be the album on which his legacy continues.
From the opening snooty snarl of "You're bad for me like cigarettes/But I haven't sucked enough of you yet" this album's a killer. It's the kind of line that summed up Howard's solo career: a homage to the history of rock'n'roll (bleeding heart sentiment and masochistic self-destruction, tied together in almost cheesy rhyming couplets) but with a deft turn of phrase that skewers the familiar. Backed by ex-members of the Birthday Party and Beasts of Bourbon along with a string section that can veer from the Cale-esque to the Spector-esque, Teenage Snuff Film balances out nods to art-school post-punk, FM radio pop, and pub rock in a way that wasn't achieved before or since.
A stone-cold classic! -Mitch