The Chats’ debut album High Risk Behaviour gets us back to the basics of punk. The Aussie trio keeps it simple, with less than three minutes for each track, and even less chords than that. They’ve honed in on a tried and true formula of barebones DIY punk that throws care out the window in service of having a good time (and breaking a few laws in the process). If having too much fun was a crime, then these guys would be arrested. In fact the album title was influenced by the Police — not the band but actual local authorities —- after drummer Matt Boggis was caught skating in the wrong place.
The 14 tracks are short and simple, with high octane bass pumps, screeching guitars that can whip out the occasional solo and drums that do the job of keeping all the craziness in check (sometimes barely). Each song portrays life down under, drizzled with offbeat humor and a don’t give a fuck attitude. The album is so cohesive in this manner, that each song could be imagined as episodes in a sitcom. Following a young delinquent living in the ‘burbs of Queensland as he goes on adventures with his mates while sporting a magnificent mullet.
“Stinker” and “Heatstroke” dial up the overdrive as it rants about the blistering heat. “Drunk n Disorderly” and “Pub Feed” are odes to pillars aussie culture, the former lists a myriad of ways to get wasted and the latter pays tribute to the divine trio of pub food – chicken schnitty, parm and rump steak (medium well!). “The Clap” and “Ross River” are exploits about catching a disease, one that was caught from a mosquito and the other was caught after they “Pulled a root”. “The Kids Need Guns” and “Dine N Dash” are straight up about crime, filled with playful irony that could either be just good old tomfoolery or straight up problematic, depending on your age. The last three songs “4573”, “Do What I want” and “Better Than You” evoke a carefree nature that will surely be moshpit staples for their live sets.
High Risk Behaviour is a mash of good old punk bred in a backyard shed under the heat of the Australian summer, and filled with bouts of juvenile delinquency. There’s nothing really new here sound-wise and the Chats wear their influences on their sleeve, but the greatest draw of this album is how straightforward the songs are to follow. They are clearly written with live shows in mind, with plenty of singable lines that even the drunkest of blokes will be able to follow. They clearly don’t take themselves too seriously, but despite the goofy facade, the end product is filled with rich down-to-earth storytelling. Its simplicity in structure and form makes it highly relatable. Easy to reach and an absolute blast for live audiences. As fans affectionately say about this band, Punk isn’t dead, it’s just on smoko.