A debut album release is typically an exciting time for young musicians—it's the culmination of everything you've worked towards so far, and a world of possibility lies ahead. But for Brisbane art rock band Requin, it spells the end of an era. You might say they called it quits before they even really got started—but the band certainly had their highlights in a short but memorable career, which concludes with the release of their debut album Shark on 18 May. Requin, which itself is French for shark, is a name with an interesting back story that involves a local fish and chip joint and Australia's favourite game show Deal or No Deal. As the story goes, the television screen at the restaurant was caught uncontrollably switching between Deal or No Deal and a French news channel reporting a shark attack (un attaque de requin). The band describe this dichotomy between these two images as reflective of the tension and release throughout their music. The band fuse influences from a myriad of different musical styles, building tension throughout alternating loud and quiet passages. But sadly it seems the concept of tension may have been present in not only the band's music, as they broke up for reasons we can only speculate. They announced their breakup in a social media post just last month, where they also announced the upcoming release of Shark, over a year since it was first teased with the single 'Rules That Won't Be Broken'. "We cannot even begin to express the gratitude we have for the people who made this band and the things we’ve been able to do possible. It is beyond us to think of the kindness, generosity and love we have been shown," the band stated.
"Thank you for being on this journey with us. We’re sending big love to you."
The band had been doing the rounds and starting to amass something of a cult following in their hometown of Brisbane for the last few years, but they had very little music actually released up until this point. A couple of early singles were followed by the debut EP The Noisy Miners Swoop Him in 2018. But after a long wait for the Requin faithful, Shark will finally release on 18 May. And let me tell you—although bittersweet, it's worth the wait, as the band takes their idiosyncratic sound to dazzling new heights on this record across 8 diverse tracks. Their experimental style, utilising unconventional arrangements and song structures, uncommon time signatures and complex riffs, bears fruit on an album that is perhaps not easily digestible at first, but with repeated listens shines through with exceptional quality. Straight off the bat, the opening track 'Rules That Won't Be Broken' shows that Requin are in fact intent on breaking the rules, as it eschews just about every songwriting convention in the book in a highly enthralling first 5 minutes of the album.
We 'Fall Right Into' the next track and its duet-like structure, with vocalists Fionn Richards and Keeley Young harmonising over the top of one another. The vocal interplay of the two singers prevails throughout the entire album, but on this track it has a particularly shining moment, where the pair share an intimate moment of call-and-response in the song's bridge. The band explores deep vulnerability on the track 'I Don't Want To Do This'. Repeated cries of "I don't want to do this" are possessed by anxiety; the wailing saxophone that follows just accentuates the overwhelming emotions on display. There's a similarly emotive display at the tail end of the album's shortest track 'Man At A Train Station', where Richards' cries of "you were right, I care too much" are accompanied by a cacophony of guitar strums, pounding snares and screeching sax. 'Let Me Sleep' also utilises the sax particularly well, with erratic fills thrown in over the track's slick, mathy guitar riff. 'Time To Go' features gorgeous plucked harmonics and noodle-y math rock riffage, guitar passages that lead up to a huge, crunchy instrumental ending. This instrumentation combined with the subdued melodic vocals would've made this song a classic of the midwest emo scene in the '90s. 'Sober' is perhaps the album's most conventional track, but that is by no means a slight. It's a fairly sobering mid tempo number for the most part, but it steadily builds up to a memorable climax featuring hypnotising distorted guitar tremolos. The record concludes with 'Silent Now', a sprawling, near 7 minute track that, while not as instrumentally loud or intense as some of the album's earlier cuts, progresses beautifully, serving as a fitting conclusion. Despite some really fantastic tracks, it's hard to pick favourites here—every song brings something unique to the table, while they all piece together perfectly in a compact 35 minutes. Although we'll be wishing we could've had more material from Requin, the band really took a quality over quantity approach and as such it's impossible to complain about the small amount we've got. It could have been the start of something really special—but instead, Shark is the perfect swansong for a band that lived and died by the phrase "it's better to burn out than fade away".