The Age Human Frailty Review
Positive Human Frailty review from The Age.
Author: Richard Guilliatt, EG (The Age).
Date: ~April 1986.
Original URL: N/A.
If ‘Jaws of Life’ signified Hunters and Collectors’ progression from the inner-city to the outer-suburbs, ‘Human Frailty’ must surely mark the band’s leap into mainstream radio. But unlike so many bands that grab for a mass audience at the expense of the very qualities which made them interesting in the first place, Hunters and Collectors have actually found strength in accessibility and simplicity. ‘Human Frailty’ is a breakthrough commercially and artistically.
Until now the band’s problems have more or less been defined by Mark Seymour’s limitation as a singer and songwriter – a lack of range and melody, a certain self-consciousness, a tendance to mistake stridency and aggression for emotion. On ‘Human Frailty’, Seymour shifts to a more personal style of songwriting, opening up entirely new melodic and lyrical possibilities without losing sight of the fact that Hunters and Collectors are fundamentally a rock band.
The single, ‘Say Goodbye’, for instance, is one of the most aggressively rhythmic songs they have done, almost reminiscent of the Stones with its open chording. What sets it apart is the boldness of its imagery combined with the irony of having Mark Seymour, all barrel-chest and bulging neck-veins, singing “you don’t make me feel like I’m a woman anymore”. ‘Say Goodbye’, surprisingly, is far from the most commercial song on ‘Human Frailty’ … it never seemed possible that a Hunters and Collectors album would have to many memorable tunes.
Much of ‘Human Frailty’ pursues a lyrical theme of domestic disharmony, in fact the album is like a flim of a disintegrating relationship shot from different angles. On ‘The Finger’, ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Stuck On You’, the band demonstrates a surprisingly melodic touch which producer Gavin MacKillop enhances with marimba, acoustic guitars, organ and violin. ’99th Home Position’ and ‘Dog’, on the other hand, are bass-drums-guitar rock ‘n’ roll which sound as if they were recorded live in the studio. Best of all are ‘Everything’s On Fire’ and ‘Relief’, anthemic numbers which are graced with some of the best lyrics Seymour has ever written.