Review: Dune Rats Take Punk Rock Gloriously Back to the Gutter on “The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit”

Few Australian acts enjoy the type of rabid, diehard fans that Dune Rats do. A quick scroll of their social media and you’ll find fan submissions of Dunies-themed tattoos on just about every human surface you can think of, some you’d never even dream of. Amazing given that this is a band with just one album and a couple of EPs to their name.

Their following remains near cult-like though thanks to relentless touring and their uncanny ability to harness the voice of almost an entire generation of kids and channel it into some of the scuzziest punk rock the country has ever produced. And that following is about to explode with euphoria from their pre-existing fans or a newfound appreciation of the Brisbane trio, because never has it been harnessed better than on sophomore album The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit.

The fingerprints of FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper are all over this both sonically and thematically. From the opening almost Rancid-inspired strains of Don’t Talk that kicks the album off, Dune Rats have never sounded grittier, the nihilism (“I don’t ever wanna work again”) that permeated FIDLAR’s sophomore album is absolutely palpable. The most immediately noticeable difference is in the guitar work, in our interview bassist Brett revealed that Carper had been behind some changes in frontman/guitarist Danny’s set-up and they’re noticeable immediately. It’s rougher, dirtier and louder and it’s all for the better.

6 Pack smacks of FIDLAR as well, a chant-along ode to getting shitfaced in your basement as a teenager off a minimal amount of beer that you can already hear a festival crowd screaming at the top of their lungs over the chorus. The jet engine riffs of Demolition Derby pick the pace up, sounding like early Blink backed by Black Flag.

Braindead is a slow-burn chugger, Danny’s rough drawl narrating the downwardly spiralling life of a waster . It’s the middle point of the record that we hear second single and already a gigantic hit in the search for Scott Green, a sentiment that has wasted no time in resonating with fans in its short life. That’s followed up by the End Of The Century-era Ramones-esque Never Gonna Get High (“do it cause you wanna, wanna cause you gotta” another custom made chorus for a seething crowd to holler at the top of their lungs).

For the first time all album the rough edges cop a slight polishing in the poppy, jangly, almost sweet-sounding Like Before, serving as this album’s No Waves moment. The lazy summery vibe lasts all of three minutes before Counting Sheep gets guttural again, an insomniac’s anthem. Buzz-Kill ­borrows pop hooks from the 60s and throws them into a punk rock grinder while Mary gives off Sex Pistols vibes, Danny scarcely sounding snottier and the guitar and drums crashing head-on in an explosion of Brit-rock fuzz.

It’s all capped off by debut single Bullshit, perhaps one of the best punk songs to come out of this country in the last five years. It’s so deliciously simple and effective, Danny snarling over the top of a marching bassline, the guitars sounding caked in six layers of grime and the hook of the chorus not so much grabbing you as throttling you. In the same interview, Brett revealed its essence was taking the relationship the band members have, the way they speak and interact with one another, and distilling it into a song. Bullshit captures this in three minutes of deliciously infectious punk rock and the same can be said of the rest of this record.

The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit might not stray too far from the longstanding ethos of Dune Rats (eat, sleep, get fucked up, repeat) but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that and it’s why they’re so beloved by fans in the first place. They don’t expect anything deeper, probably wouldn’t want it, and very few bands do that pure punk rock attitude better than Dune Rats.

Carper’s assistance in the recording process has done them wonders here as far as sonic progression, covering plenty of punk rock ground from the past few decades, Dunies have never sounded heavier, grimier and like they give less of a flying fuck and it translates into a rollickingly fun, less than zero frills second entry in their discography. For Dunies fans, this is the record they have been waiting patiently for since their self-titled debut landed three years ago and they’ll find it full of reward for their patience.

Those kids are only going to love Dune Rats more for this.

The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit is out now via Ratbag Records. Stream it below:

The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit (w/ Skegss and Gooch Palms) tour dates and venues:

Sat, 11th Mar: Metropolis, Fremantle

Sun, 12th Mar: The Gov, Adelaide

Fri, 17th Mar: The Croxton, Melbourne

Sat, 18th Mar: The Croxton, Melbourne

Thu, 23rd Mar: The Triffid, Brisbane

Fri, 24th Mar: The Triffid, Brisbane

Sat, 25th Mar: The Metro, Sydney

Sun, 26th Mar: The Metro, Sydney

Image: Tone Deaf