TO the ears of RVG leader Romy Vager, Wayne Cochran's 1961 version of his song Last Kiss is pure magic.
Of course, more people are familiar with Pearl Jam's cover version which gave the Seattle grunge legends their only ARIA No.1 in 1999.
But it's the sweet delicate-nature of Cochran's voice and the harmonies in contrast to the unsettling lyrics about a tragic car crash and really speak to Vager.
"I like dark lyrics, I really love them," Vager said. "But I also don't like a lot of the music. I don't like discordant stuff. I like to be depressing, but I've never been a metal head or anything like that.
"I love songs like Last Kiss. The old one is phenomenal. It's this full '50s tune with harmonies and backing vocals, but it's about this full-on car crash."
RVG's forthcoming second album Feral follows Last Kiss' blueprint of mixing dark tragic lyrics with sparkly guitar pop arrangements.
The Melbourne four-piece, also known as Romy Vager Group, recorded their debut album A Quality Of Mercy for $100 in an empty room of The Tote in 2017.
The album's cathartic post-punk featured influences from The Go-Betweens, Patti Smith, Lou Reed and PJ Harvey and was critically-acclaimed. Vager's intense live performances only further enhanced RVG's reputation as one of Melbourne's most exciting new bands.
Feral is a more polished version of A Quality Of Mercy after it was produced by Berlin-based Australian Victor Van Vugt (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Beth Orton, Sarah Blasko).
The album is also decidedly darker in its lyrical content. A result of a difficult personal period for Vager as a trans woman on tour.
There's the intensely personal break-up song I Used To Love You and the familial strife of the first single Alexandra.
"A lot of the songs are very isolated songs," Vager said. "I feel like for a lot of the year before , around the time we were recording it and writing these songs, I felt very apart from everything and outside of everything.
"I was looking at a name for the whole of the album and I just felt feral worked really well. It's not meant to be read in a kind of punk Mad Max way, it's just stating a fact.
"I've done a lot of touring and I think touring is hard for me. Being trans I'm outside of everything in a lot of ways. I have to work a lot harder, so I feel that all comes into play."
For the first time Vager also experimented with writing from the perspective of different characters. On Little Sharky Vager inhabits a friend she made at 17 who claimed he spoke to dead celebrities, Asteroid embodies philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the catchy Christian Neurosurgeon explores the conflict between religion and science.
"I don't think anybody truly writes about somebody else. It's always about you," she said. "That's my experience anyway in the songs I've tried to write. I've tried to write them about other people and they've always ended up being about me."
RVG release Feral on April 24.
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