It’s been a hectic couple of years for Sydney’s finest reggae fusion/indie rockers, Sticky Fingers. After their critically acclaimed sophomore release Land of Pleasure shot them onto everyone’s radar in 2014, the band have been on a relentless touring schedule that has seen them finally break it overseas, selling out shows in the USA, Canada, Europe, the UK and New Zealand.
Coupled with this, their local popularity has continued to skyrocket, with a record-breaking crowd at Splendour in the Grass in 2014 as well as more sold-out shows at Falls, Woodford and Southbound Festivals – but the sudden success wasn’t without its toll.
Travelling to Thailand earlier this year to record album number three, the members of Sticky Fingers spent a month condensing the highs and lows of a difficult but rewarding career, ultimately revitalising the band.
“I think last year, after seven or eight years of doing this, we’d somewhat grown up a bit, and maybe learned the consequences for some of our actions, and some of our mistakes,” bassist Paddy says of the process. “So the record tells the story of the last 12 to 16 months of us as the band, and as brothers.”
Out of all this comes Westway (The Glitter and the Slums), the group’s darkest but most mature record to date. It’s a step-up from the band’s previous two efforts, both musically and lyrically. The guitars are meatier and the synth work more intricate, combining with varied tempos to form something more complex and satisfying than their earlier work.
The band are certainly aware of the jump they’ve made. “The quality of the music, and our musicianship – it’s better,” says keyboardist Freddy Crabs. “Lyrically as well, it’s a whole new kettle of fish.”
He’s not wrong, as lyrically this album is also a leap forward, tackling the bands’ struggles with loneliness, break-ups and rehab, all centering around the impact life on the road can have on a touring band.
“It was sort of weird, as we’d come off the back of touring, and we’d drunk ourselves to where we’d just lost our minds, basically,” he says of the return to life after constant touring. “So we come here, to this beautiful villa attached to a studio, which kind of felt like we were in rehab, playing music to help us clear our minds and come back to reality.
Despite the material, this isn’t a sudden dark turn for StiFi, and is instead overwhelmingly warm and uplifting. ‘Sad Songs’ has to be the happiest sounding sad song ever likely to be written, while the guitars found on title track ‘Westway’ keep things very chill indeed with clever use of reverb – easily the band’s most experimental song to date.
Elsewhere, a collaboration with Melbourne rapper Remi on ‘Something Strange’ serves as another highlight. Described by the band as “one of Australia’s most important artists”, you get the feeling things just clicked on this one, and proves to be an ideal pairing.
The band save the best until last, however, with album closer ‘No Divide’ featuring one hell of a heartfelt vocal performance from frontman Dylan Frost. It’s the most moving moment in an album that manages to capture the journey of a band of brothers who have had their fair share of rocky moments, but have made it through stronger for the experience.
Westway (The Glitter And The Slums) is out today through Sureshaker/Warner, and Sticky fingers will be heading out on tour in October, dates below.
STICKY FINGERS TOUR DATES
Friday 28 October – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Friday 4 November – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Saturday 5 November – NightQuarter, Gold Coast
Friday 11 November – Odeon Theatre, Hobart
Saturday 12 November – Festival Hall, Melbourne
Friday 18 November – Metro City, Perth
Saturday 19 November – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday 30 November – Beyond The Valley Music Festival, Lardner VIC