It’s a refreshing moment in the music world when a band that hasn’t made music in almost twenty years surprises the world by coming back together with new material. The last time Departure Lounge released an album was back in 2002 with Too Late to Die Young. As an up-and-coming band at the time, it’s an interesting turn of events that they just *poofed* out of nowhere. But it wasn’t to be the end of them. All good things come to those who wait.
The band reunited in 2019 to create their fourth album, Transmeridian, from which their latest single “Australia” hails. The album is set to release in March this year. Aside from a transition of style from their earlier works, “Australia” has the honor and privilege of featuring the guitarist from R.E.M., Peter Buck, and his iconic guitar sound.
The lead singer of Departure Lounge, Tim Keegan, had always been inspired by R.E.M. and is good friends with Buck. “Australia” didn’t feel finished to him after the first rendition and he found there to be a “Rickenbacker-shaped hole.” In stepped Buck and his Rickenbacker, and the rest is history. Known for his arpeggiated guitar styling, Buck contributes his singular fretwork to the song.
Aside from those acclaimed guitar sounds, the song has that classic pop vibe reminiscent of R.E.M. itself. There is, however, a noticeable distinction from Departure Lounge’s style of its older albums. Having gone in a more experimental, slower, indie, atmospheric direction (like “Alone Again And” and “Disconnected”), and oftentimes entirely instrumental (like “Runaway Doubts” and “Tubular Belgians in My Goldfield”), “Australia” strays into a faster, alternative rock, southern, lower-toned style. One thing that remains, though, is letting the instruments shine in center stage. In Jetlag Dreams, the piano took the lead. In “Australia,” it’s evident that the guitar is the star, with a powerful intro, a noteworthy bridge, and an iconic riff at the end. The vocals stray into new territory, as well. In older songs, the vocals tend to be higher pitched and mobile, but in “Australia” they’re much lower and retain a consistent tone from beginning to end. They also take a backstage to the instruments, slipping right behind them.
The lyrics are, therefore, nice and simple. Makes sense for a song that wants you to pay attention to the sounds rather than the words. They begin the song with its chorus:
Cuz your heart can feel
You know what’s right
And you know what’s real
They’re singing directly to the audience, reminding them that they can trust themselves because they’ll always have the answer in their gut.
Should remain that way
It’s between the lines
That’s gonna stay
As a listener, I interpret this in a very profound way: Even if my reality is skewed, as it is for everyone, I should embrace it and listen to what it’s trying to tell me.
When you know
What your fight is for
That fight is different for every person, and when you learn what your individual fight is for, it’s a powerful moment. How do you interpret their lyrics?
We’re excited to welcome Departure Lounge back, and keep a lookout for their new album this spring!