IT'S been 20 years since the release of a new You Am I album carried any real sense of anticipation.
That's not to say Tim Rogers and co haven't delivered flashes of brilliance in the ensuing years - such as Convicts (2006) and their slightly-experimental self-titled 2010 record. Even their last effort, 2015's Porridge and Hot Sauce, was rollicking fun.
But no one is expecting another Hi Fi Way or Hourly Daily, which remain two of the finest Australian rock albums ever made.
On their 11th studio album, The Lives Of Others, the '90s legends manage the fine balancing act of delivering everything You Am I fans love - crunching guitars, '60s-inspired melodies and Rogers' visual wordplay - combined with minor deviations in style.
In fact, it's the shifts from the classic You Am I playbook which deliver the biggest rewards on The Lives Of Others.
On Manliness Rogers offers his own personal reflections and struggles with toxic masculinity over acoustic guitar and soaring strings.
"I hugged a tree I shed a tear/ But I did it all when no one was here/ Except my shadow which was making other plans/ You can sure waste a lot of space trying to be a man," Rogers sings. Then later, "I score a goal but miss the point/ My statement meant I left the joint/ All opinions are like arseholes I kept in clean and I ran/ You can suck the air out of a room trying to be a man."
Rubbish Day is another intriguing divergence into psych-rock territory propelled along by Davey Lane's inventive guitar and Rusty Hopkinson's bongo drums.
However, for fans craving classic You Am I you can feast on the crunching power chord-filled DRB Hudson, that would have fit snugly on Dress Me Slowly, and The Third Level revives the energy of their #4 Record period.
Lane sings two of his compositions - We All Went Deaf Overnight and I'm My Whole World Tonight - which sit proudly against Rogers' work. The former, in particular, is destined to become a live favourite.
The question to be posed is whether The Lives Of Others is the best YAI album since their glory days? The answer - it could well be.
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