Body Type aren’t big fans of waiting around. When their incendiary debut Everything is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising arrived in May last year, it had sat on the shelf for nearly two years, the release plan scuppered by the chaos of COVID. The band weren’t exactly thrilled by proceedings.
“It was painfully frustrating,” says drummer Cecil Coleman, while the rest of the Sydney four-piece grimace and nod in their squares on the Zoom call. “I think our management were getting incessant emails every few weeks being like, what is happening? What is happening? We’d worked so hard and we really had a fire lit up our butts.”
But it was well worth the wait: Everything is Dangerous But Nothing’s Surprising was stamped by critics around the world as one of the finest records of the year, a tightly coiled collection of post-punk tracks that tackled industry chauvinists, sexual power and rage. It also revealed a band that could construct the most caustic and frenetic tracks and imbue them with a melodicism that would elude most others.
It was seriously impressive, and the band wound up being shortlisted for the prestigious Australian Music Prize alongside the likes of songwriting powerhouse Julia Jacklin and Northern Territory surf rockers King Stingray. They wouldn’t end up snagging the top gong (King Stingray took it out), but you get the feeling it won’t be long before they lift the giant cheque.
It could very well be with their new album, the melodic and contemplative Expired Candy. From their fans’ perspective, it’s coming very quickly after their debut – but Expired Candy has been in the bag for a while now. The band had been working on new material in the years that their debut sat waiting to be released, meaning by the time they were doing promo for the first one, the second was almost finished.
Due to COVID border restrictions, the band were scattered across the country – Coleman, Sophie McComish and Annabel Blackman were living just south of Sydney, while bassist Georgia Wilkinson-Derums found herself stuck in Perth. “It was really tricky,” says Sophie. “We were recording on voice memos, writing our own ideas at home, and then sending Georgia little snippets of things and she’d send things back.”
The recording was a much more simple affair. In the middle of their tour with the Pixies, the band finally got together in the studio in the second half of 2022 and pulled together Expired Candy with their longtime producer Jonathon Boulet.
“Jono has this weird way of sitting in the room and remaining quite silent and observing us as a unit,” says Georgia. “He’ll listen to us reference certain songs or certain parts of songs – and then we get the mixes back and it’s exactly right. It’s like he does it silently, it’s really quite magical. He must be reading our minds.”
As for that Pixies support slot, Cecil says simply that it was “life-changing”. The band – collectively, and each member individually – have drawn a huge amount of inspiration from the ’90s icons.
“A cute little story from when we first started playing was that the Pixies were touring, it must have been 2019 or 2017,” says Sophie. “I wrote them an email that’s still in our Body Type inbox saying ‘hello, we’re a new band from Sydney and we really love the Pixies. If you’d like to take us on tour, we’d love to come’. Here we are, in 2023, and we just did it.”
“It was incredibly validating,” adds Cecil. “We’d had two years of COVID and waiting to release that first album. To finish off that year touring with our heroes, playing the Opera House… it will forever be etched into our minds.”
Expired Candy is a thrilling record, more elastic and sprawling than their debut. It features the best writing of the band’s career – stark reflections of Australian life and contemplations on generational pain and struggle. It’s an album that drifts between time and place, whether it’s the small-town musings of Summer Forever, or the sketchings of Albion Park. They’ve captured the grim banality, and also joyful simplicity, of Australian life through the years, through their lives, and also their mothers and grandmothers and women before them.
At one point in our chat I mention to the band that the album draws from the great well of Australian Gothic, and I’m met with shocked faces. “It’s so funny that you said that,” Georgia explains after a moment. “Because the amount of times in the studio I said ‘we’re channelling the Australian Gothic’.”
It’s also, Georgia goes on to say, a very classic coming-of-age album for the band, who threw themselves back into the music of the nineties while they were writing Expired Candy – which comes across very strongly on tracks such as the languid and shoegazey Beat You Up. “Like that bildungsroman thing, you know?” Georgia says. “Coming of age in the Australian nineties.”
The mention of “bildungsroman” kicks off another funny moment, as I show the band the recent search I made about the term while listening to the album a few days before. The band laugh, before telling a story about doing the Good Weekend quiz backstage at a show recently and coming undone over a question about the concept. “We didn’t get it right, but we would have if Georgia was on the team that day,” Sophie says, going on to express her admiration for Spectrum word-wizard David Astle.
While they peppered Everything’s Dangerous… with references to authors such as Eve Babitz and modern art, Expired Candy is much more direct in its approach. When asked whether this is their most personal release, all four of them nod in agreement. “This is much more personal,” Sophie continues. “For my writing personally, it was focused on my relationships – family, friends, and my lovers.”
It was people this time, not things, that inspired them, Sophie says. It served them well, as Expired Candy feels like an Australian classic.