Melbourne quadtuplet, Psychobabel, are continuing their theatrical concept narrative with their latest single 'GRIP.' Laced with doom-tinged psychadelia, the song picks up where their 2020 release, Chaotic Neutral left off. Here we see the unnamed protagonist wind her way past the threshold of numbness & anhedonia, laid bare in Chaotic Neutral, into the confines of dysfunctional love and manipulation.
Frontwoman Leah Romero explains it best:
“‘Grip' delves into how the main character created within our songs is perceived by the possessive ‘him’. In his eyes, she is helpless, incomplete, and unable to exist without him. The verses of the song are somewhat sarcastic, as she humours the false ‘damsel in distress’ narrative spun by ‘him’ - but we all know that this is 100% not the case, and she will be okay on her own.”
The song begins with a spacey raw intro, which reminds me of the ending to The Mars Volta's 'Inertiatic ESP.' You can literally hear the room it was recorded in, and envision the exact spot in the room where you would be standing - the acoustics, the ambience - everything. You can smell the wood panels of the old shack, you can hear the screech of sliding fingers on guitar string, you can see the world outside the room, with rain falling on a grey window. And then BOOM. The band comes in and slaps you in the face. This song is always moving forward, just like our protagonist. We follow her through muck and alley and grime and lactic acid. And all the while, Leah Romero's silken spider voice pulls us in, deeper and deeper, intoxicating and slick, like a silver-screen femme fatale of Noir yesteryears.
This contrasts with the pounding of the toms, the drummer here really driving the song. From the frantic guitar and thunder of drumskins, we really get the overtones of the villainous 'him' character - the confusion, the chase, the obsession. We can get a sense of this from the labyrinthian lyrics:
'I’m on my own / And there is no way to get home
I’m on my own / Finding more ways to feel numb
You are tripping over made up words / And I know I could be better
But I pull away when your grip gets too tight'
Psychobabel have made a name for themselves on the live circuit, touring with esteemed acts like Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Clowns and Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, just to name a few. They were set to support Eagles of Deathmetal in 2020, but then The Ronies came in and quashed their Australian tour plans. Despite all this, Psychobabel have remained influential in the live scene, and were kind enough to give us the low-down on their personal favourite bands to rock out to live:
The best live bands, according to Psychobabel
1. Mildlife - All of the members are just such incredibly original musicians and it's really cool to see them all interact.
2. Jack Harlon and The Dead Crows - I love seeing them live because they make me feel like I'm on drugs without needing any.
3. WAAX - They are incredible at what they do and really bring a great energy to their shows and make sure everyone feels included and welcome.
4. Garlic Nun - Definitely one of the most high energy, unpredictable and straight up batty shows you’re going to see in Melbourne. I enjoy going to see them because because something insane will happen that didn’t happen at the last show.
5. Bakers Eddy - They are a band who’s live presence during a set is kind of unmatched. Their super clever pop tunes are played with incredible amounts of energy while still delivering a crazy tight performance.
Speaking of mind-boggling live shows, Psychobabel are supporting the release of 'GRIP' with a launch show late this year. Just don't make the mistake I made in listening to this song on the bus and freaking everybody out with chairbound headbanging.
‘GRIP’ SINGLE LAUNCH SHOW
Friday November 4th - Leadbeater Hotel - Melbourne, VIC