News
February 12 2021

Cool Sounds “Bystander” – album out now, tour dates below!


Melbourne’s Cool Sounds today return with their fourth full-length album Bystander, viaSpunk Records / Osborne Again. Warm and deftly balanced, Bystander moves through indie rock and alt-country with an alert effortlessness. Cool Sounds’ signature lead guitar lines are in dialogue with lead singer and songwriter Dainis Lacey’s lyrics, which are at turns introspective, self-aware, irreverent and unflinchingly observant.
Bystander was written during a European summer and recorded in three weeks over the following Australian one, produced by Lacey alongside Dylan Young (Way Dynamic). This album sees Cool Sounds more attuned to their surroundings than ever. While Lacey has always been interested in storytelling, these songs bring lyrics into sharp focus – for the first time the words were all written before the music, and he took notes in the band’s cramped tour van on the autobahn and while wandering through small towns in France and Italy, reflecting on his home while away from it. Trying to maintain equal parts empathy, scrutiny and shame, Lacey writes about Australia’s contemporary social and political climate, and how it resonates through the other places he visits.
Cool Sounds’ 2018 album Cactus Country marked a turning point in the band’s sound, and 2019’s More To Enjoy, which was nominated for the AIR Award for Best Independent Country Album, took up that sound with an increased confidence. On Bystander it’s filtered through the restrained raucousness of early Velvet Underground and the frank intimacy of David Berman – both acts were on high rotation in the European tour minivan. All the essential elements of Cool Sounds are here – vocal melodies that dip and spike then smooth out, guitar licks as catchy as any chorus, and clever, understated rhythmic changes – but as lyrics are brought to the forefront, the band’s agile, elastic arrangements feel all the more essential.

Also integral to Bystander is the musical community that Cool Sounds have found. While the band is Lacey’s project primarily, and he’s been refining and evolving its sound for years, its collective nature has become its defining characteristic. Cool Sounds’ revered live show is the product of six people crowded onstage – LaceyNick KeartonAmbrin HasnainSteve FoulkesJack Nichols, and Pierce Morton – and the band collaborate with friends on artwork and music videos.
This collective spirit manifests across the album – lead single “Back To Me” reflects on grief, loss, and personal growth, but finds a buoyancy in the love shared by friends, bandmates and family; “Bystander”’s chorus is layered with multiple voices, all of whom are calling the title character away from complacency; Emma Shields sings in close duet with Lacey on “Human Statue”, a song that meditates on an insidious, quiet extremism that feels increasingly present; on “Netherlands” and “South of France” family stories of unrest and intolerance from the past speak to the present.
Bystander sees Cool Sounds explore the contemporary moment and the everyday with nuance and dexterity, never losing sight of the intimacy and charm that characterises their work. An exercise in observation and reflection, Bystander takes snapshots and zooms in, underlines phrases, and asks its listener to continue paying close attention.
COOL SOUNDS TOUR
Sun Feb 28 – Brunswick Ballroom, Melbourne
Sat Mar 20 – Tanswells, Beechworth
Fri Mar 26 – Felons, Brisbane
Sat Mar 27 – Eltham Pub, Eltham
Sun Mar 28 – Bowlo, Yamba
Sat Apr 24 – Meadow Music Festival
Fri Apr 30 – Eastern, Ballarat
Sat May 1 – Bridge, Castlemaine
Sat May 29 – Vanguard, Sydney
Sun May 30 – Franks, Thirroul