When Melbourne-based four-piece Amyl and The Sniffers came to prominence in 2019 with their self-titled debut, they quickly rose to the higher rung of modern-day punk. Mainly down to two things, being self-taught on their instruments, the album was a collection of ramshackle DIY disorder which tripped over itself to get from A to B, with vocalist Amy Taylor, a chaotic bundle of energy and anger with a whole load of fuck you & hip-hop influenced phrasing keeping it all together.
Living together, they spent the pandemic and its multitude of lockdowns honing their craft and it really tells, the musicianship is much improved, the production particularly sympathetic toward the pummelling drums, while guitarist Dec Bryce has clearly been caning the old AC/DC, Slayer and Cosmic Psychos records, unafraid to chuck in a trashy as hell solo where he sees fit.
Taylor’s observational lyrics cut much deeper than previous, shifting from goofy witticisms, challenging small dick energy, to don’t fuck with me at the hit of a switch. "Security" finds her being singled out due to the way she looks and refused entry to the pub, she defiantly protests “You looked at normies different to me, You looked at them with trust / I looked at normies different to you, Cos you looked at them with lust”. Featuring a chorus “I’m not looking for trouble, I’m looking for love, let me in your hard heart: let me in your pub!” we’ve got a moment of pure bubble-gum pop, albeit said gum cunningly disguising splinters of broken glass.
Trite-free rejections of social pressures to fit in are visited on the Bad Brains cum Motorhead thrashing of "Freaks To The Front", Taylor shouting “I already told you to gimmie some space/ Don’t fucking touch me cos I’m in a rage/ Freaks to the front, if they don’t like you as you are, just ignore the cunt”, we are WAY beyond the "live, laugh & love" norms of a motivational Facebook meme here.
Elsewhere there’s jagged riffing odes to driving to the countryside ("Hertz"), having to carry a knife for protection on late night walks through the park on "Knifey", and ear frazzling odes to not being told what to do on "Choices", Taylor spikily demanding “My choice is my own/My voice my own/My life is my own…I own it, I own it”. The boy meets girl adage gets a gloriously fetid twist on "Maggots" (“Come on Maggot, put your maggots in me”), while dumb punk rockers like "Don’t Need to Be a Cunt (Like You to Love Me)" have the album hurtling at a breathless pace.
The steely conviction of Taylor is hard to ignore, for evidence just watch the video for lead single & album highlight "Guided By Angels", looking iconic in a cheapo bikini stomping around the beach looking like Jill Tyrell on speed actually kicking the shit out of water. While vocally she proves to be a voice as unique as punk icons such as Kathleen Hanna, or Poly Styrene, her form on Comfort to Me has her, and her band hurtling towards being 21st Century punk icons with ease.