Hey, Good Lekker – what ya got cookin’? What the Sydney-based indie rock outfit have got cookin’, it turns out, is their new EP, Portraits

Released today, the six-song collection is playful and passionate, vibrating with excitable energy. All six members of Good Lekker are fully committed to providing listeners with as many irresistible hooks as possible, as many zooming synth patterns as they can muster.

Imagine Phoenix without the French insouciance – and Sofia Coppola at their gigs – and you get the idea. Good Lekker are endearingly spirited on Portraits, sounding like a band on a mission.

Underneath the endless energy of their arrangements is sensitive songwriting, an attempt to capture “the uncertainty of your mid-20s,” as the band puts it.

“This isn’t a conceptual album – we feel that Portraits is a snapshot of our lives and a reflection on our fear and anxieties. It’s more musically mature and content than past Good Lekker offerings. It’s more introspective and self-critical than our back catalogue as well,” they add.

To mark the EP’s release, Tone Deaf asked Good Lekker to take us through each track on Portraits in more detail, which you can check out below. The band will also be embarking on an East Coast headline tour in May, including a show at Melbourne’s The Workers Club (tickets available here).

Good Lekker’s Portraits is out now. 

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Portraits track by track:

‘IN 2’

If you look at our track record with ‘Samsara’, you’ll see we have a history of intro tracks. On our first EP we took the r out of intro to call it ‘Into’. This time we were feeling even lazier so we just reduced it to ‘IN 2’. Now taking bets for what we’re going to name our album opener.

It starts with an ominous, half time arp from a deepmind6 in the studio and we filtered everything in to an increasingly frenetic build that to me sounds like a train rushing at you late at night. It makes me anxious, honestly, which is the point. ‘IN 2’ acts like an amuse-bouche for the EP – something to jar your palette before the rest of the meals start coming to your table.

‘Death Scroll’

‘IN 2’ intentionally resolves into the stabs at the start of ‘Death Scroll’. Those stabs launch straight into luscious, sparking tele and synth tones in the intro groove – it’s a real bop from the top. My lyrical aim in the first verse was to leave a bit more space for everything to sit in – my usual propensity is to fill every square metre with as much furniture as I can.

The first verse is about finding yourself in a rut – doing no more in a day than digging yourself slightly deeper into your already entrenched habits. I really like the lyric “wake up, stone cold, in a death scroll on my phone”. That repeating ‘o’ sound is something that one of my favourite ever vocalists King Krule is quite fond of.

The second verse gets into the excuses you make for yourself to try and externalise the entirety of the problem. It again references the rut of anxiety in thought patterns. This all pans out under the overarching context of our music career and the fear that everything we’ve ever made will be wasted if nothing ever comes of it – which is, in its own right, an ugly and self-effacing thought to have. The end chant and resolution is one of my favourite moments on the EP. I can’t wait to play this one live to a packed crowd on our upcoming tour dates.

‘Show I Care’

The music to this one was almost entirely cooked up by our guitarist, Mal – when I listened to that demo it was pretty clear we had a very fun, poppy single on our hands. I’m pretty certain the intro chords were recorded on Mal’s strat, but they sound dry and twangy like a tele.

The lead guitar tone references Last Dinosaur’s ‘Zoom’ and I think it came out great – as an aside, Last Dinos are a constant studio reference for us – their production and songwriting is seriously underrated. I tried to keep the lyrics dead simple here, though I put a little extra grit into my delivery. They’re about the fear of letting your loved one down, not living up to expectations and a fear of becoming the kind of person who has more old friends than actual ones.

A star of the production comes from our keys player, Critch (Oli). He chopped up and massacred a few verse and chorus sections and crafted it into the hook that I’d argue is the EP’s catchiest moment.

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‘Pretty Boys’

If you ask any of us about ‘Pretty Boys’, we’ll pretty happily call it the ugly duckling of the EP (in an affectionate way). The barest bones of ‘Pretty Boys’ go all the way back to me and Critch jamming years ago at his Dad’s place west of Byron, though you wouldn’t recognise that jam as the song it became. It started out as a droney song in a style kinda like DIIV.

It went through a bunch of transformations, including re-recording the whole song from scratch in a day in the studio. Gray did a great job with the lyrics seeing they were also re-written on the hop. After the first session, we went and reworked it a bit and actually re-wrote the chorus hook again. Gray, Dan and I pushed ourselves to the precipice of frustration, but came out with a lush, catchy hook.

I love the very ’80s synths throughout – we released it as a single right as Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ was everywhere thanks to Stranger Things and I honestly think that gave the song a huge boost. There was a time after its release when we had the yips playing it live, but now its one of my favourites live.

‘Life in Real Time’

This is another contribution from Mal – we added a few parts as a band and did some restructuring but ‘Life in Real Time’ (or LIRT, as we’re already calling it) came out reasonably close to the original demo. There’s a certain ‘je ne sais pas’ about this song, a strange genre defiance that culminates in a really interesting pop song. A particularly favourite moment of ours is Mal’s guitar tone at the end inspired by Genesis Owusu’s ‘Don’t Need You’. It was also fun for me (Josh) to lay down some vocoder over the chorus.

The lyrics are inspired by a friend of Gray’s who, from memory, was rolled into the earth by the corporate machinery of a company that shall remain unnamed. A really nice moment is the bridge – it was already sounding quite pretty with the interplay of my harmonics and Mal’s riff, but Gray hadn’t yet written any words for it.

In the booth he kind of adlibbed a melody very close to what you hear on the studio track. He came back in and we fleshed out the words over a couple of beers at the end of a long day in the studio. In my opinion, it’s the best his voice has sounded on any of our tracks so far.

‘Feed the Feeling’

‘Feed the Feeling’ was also born at the end of a long day, this time in a writing studio in the Gong. Just like most of the indie world around the time, we’d been pumping Sam Fender’s ’Seventeen Going Under’ and wanted to craft something a little slower and more lyrical than the rest of the EP. While most of us went outside to eat some food and get some air, Critch stayed in the studio and doggedly played the chords over and over until we decided to relent and join him. The song came together in the span of an hour or so and I had a patchwork of melodic ideas to take home and flesh out.

The result is, in my opinion, the best lyrics I’ve written so far. The start of the song takes off on a metaphorical tangent from my neighbour’s old asbestos house being unceremoniously torn down. From there, it winds down a reflection on the perpetual wheel of anxiety, both personal and collective/social (whatever you’d prefer to call it).

After years of COVID and natural disaster, the second verse looks inward at the impetus I think a lot of creatives implicitly feel – to look outwards at the horror and disarray of the world and reflect it back as art. Something beautiful. This theme follows the song to its close, where I talk about feeling helpless and at some kind of precipice.

Finally, in the choruses and bridge, I try to salvage some hope and remind myself that among all the chaos, sometimes all you can do is make the choice to fight only what you can control. Hopefully, if you do this well and seek help from those you love (and/or a professional), this attitude will eventually deliver you to a better place.

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