The new album from Melbourne band Second Prize takes its name from the world of Pro Wrestling. The Heel Turn is the moment when a good guy (or a “face”) becomes a bad guy (or a “heel”).
Many of the songs on the debut album inhabit that space – the grey area where male behaviour normally regarded as drifts over into toxic masculinity.
“At the moment I think we as a culture are engaged in this massive audit of masculinity – what do we keep; what do we chuck out?” says singer/ songwriter John Palmer. “When you look at a lot of the common topics in rock music, they’re fine as far as they go, but you don’t need to push them very far at all before you end up in wrongtown. I’m really interested in that dynamic.”
He points to lead single Waiting for a Spark, which details a couple picking over their relationship, as an example. Other variations upon the theme include Sneak Around, which details an inept seduction attempt, and Try You On, which takes the cliché of a male narrator’s erotic fixation on an item of his girlfriend’s clothing to its logical conclusion.
Musically, the songs by turns evoke the sleazy disco of Pulp, the mid-life-crisis scuzz-rock of Grinderman-era Nick Cave, and the hangover-weary tenderness of Lambchop and Sparklehorse.
Palmer was previously the frontman of Half A Cow signing The Raylenes, and has more recently played guitar for Melbourne indie-pop auteur Georgia Fields. Chief collaborator Dave Rogers has played with Klinger, Ben Lee, Sophie Koh and Slow Fades.
The Heel Turn is released independently on March 22, and being launched on March 31 at The Workers Club with support from Magnets and Duke Batavia.