IT'S no coincidence that Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird's promotional photo depicts the five-piece hovering around a scientific experiment.
It's perhaps the best description of the Melbourne band's eclectic sound, which is almost impossible to categorise.
Much like Tame Impala or King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard, they're constantly evolving.
"I just started relentlessly songwriting without really stopping to think," Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird frontman and songwriter Lachlan Rose says.
"After we'd done a few EPs that was the feedback that was coming through - this is all really strong, but it's almost a tasting palette of all these different genres.
"The more I thought about it, the more it make sense, as for anyone in our generation we're exposed to so many different styles of music all the time.
"It kind of makes sense to me that bands are heading more in that direction of trying all these different genres and not being as focused on the sound of their scene or the sound of their town."
Experimentation has been at heart of Cousin Tony's since Rose teamed up with Peter Simonsen (guitar), Francesca Gonzales (synth), Nick Reid (drums) and Matt Hayes (bass) eight years ago after meeting at The Fortnightly Fort Nights.
Fort Nights were a series of jam sessions performed on cardboard forts that were organised by Rose.
From there the band, who take their colourful name from a line out of Oscar-winning 1999 film American Beauty, released their EPs Queen Of Hearts (2017) and Melbourne Bitter (2017), before producing their acclaimed debut album Electric Brown (2018).
It introduced fans to Rose's baritone and Cousin Tony's lush brand of indie and psychedelica, that was both vintage in tone, but forward in its thinking.
Last year's New Romancer album contained even more U-turns. Like a seedy early-hours nightclub, the record features danceable grooves, increased electronica and broken hearts.
Tracks like the catchy Best Face To London and party-starter Hot Pink introduced an anthemic quality, while the haunting piano ballad, Joy, displayed Rose's love of Leonard Cohen.
"The band has always been about experimentation and there's five of us who all have so many different influences, and I'm not one to keep digging in the same hole," Rose says.
"Once I feel like I've experimented with a style, by that point, I'm inspired by a completely different genre.
"That does make it hard to categorise, but I think people who are following the band tend to love that eventually and love to see where we'll go next because you never know what style is coming."
Rose wrote New Romancer during the painful end of a relationship. But rather than wallow in the heartbreak he chose to explore the void the break up left in his life.
"Even though I was very sad, I didn't want to make a record that just pulled people down into this well of sadness and not offer anything beyond that," he says.
"That's why the title New Romancer runs so true with me because all those songs are about a catalyst of a break up and a change, but I want to write songs about the person I'm choosing to become in the wake of that."
Performing New Romancer's songs, has in turn, helped Rose fill the void he was exploring.
The past year has taken Cousin Tony's around Australia and Britain for their first international tour.
"Romantically it's still this personal journey, but taking that pain, loss and confusion and being able to wrap it up in these songs and being able to give it to people, that's really given me purpose to step forward every day after something that was personally really hard," he says.
The next step is the United States. Next month Cousin Tony's will perform at Austin's South By South West Festival, regarded as a major launch pad for underground bands into the US.
"South By South West is a huge checkpoint on anybody's list when you're a musician," Rose says. "For us it feels very much like the right time to be doing it.
"It's been on the plate for a few years but we've held off and I think we're going over there this year with such a realised version of this band.
"We've toured it so relentlessly around Australia and we have two records now, that we're not only quite adept to playing, that we also really love playing.
"I think our goal is to go over there and play as passionately as we have been while touring in Australia and hopefully that resonates in the States as much as it has here and in the UK."
Following SXSW and their Australian tour, Rose will set his mind to writing Cousin Tony's third record. While his musical ideas are developing, lyrically he's kept the powder dry.
"One of my favourite songs is Clay Pigeons by Blaze Foley, who was this Texas folk singer," he says. "He has this great lyric of 'I'll start talking again when I've got something to say'.
"That's where I've been at for the last six months. I'm always writing music, progressions and melodies and working on songs, but for me, I want to make sure the next time I put out a collection of work that it has a strong message as well.
"I personally believe I need to get back to living a bit more life before I really believe in the sentiment behind one of our releases."
Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird play Newcastle Hotel on Thursday, Wollongong's La La La's on Saturday and the Gum Ball at Dashville on April 24 to 26.
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