On their fourth album, Sticky Fingers take a victory lap with their fans; waltzing hand-in-hand through whimsical subtlety and blissful indie-rock tracks to craft together the best album of their careers. It has an air of beauty and vulnerability that further enhances this album’s persona, marking as the ideal bonding point between band and listener.
Starting out as a reggae-fusion band in Australia before transitioning into a groovy but sombre indie-rock outfit is hardly the traditional trajectory musicians will take, but that is the story when talking about Sticky Fingers. They have worked immensely hard to gain the recognition they have today, with dividends appearing to be paid in 2016 with their third album Westway (The Glitter & The Slums) which made it to number one for the first time in the band’s career. Their world would soon be turned upside down after this.
After consistent battles with addiction and his mental health, lead singer Dylan Frost announced a band hiatus with no return in sight; he had been at the face of an abusive storm after accusations of racial aggravation towards a singer and verbally threatening behaviour towards a woman. These allegations have since cooled after it was found there was no evidence of racial abuse by Frost, but he has accepted fault in the verbally threatening behaviour case in a heartfelt social media post that came about after the band’s hiatus. You can read that here:
Anyway, enough about that, this is about the new album. Sticky Fingers have returned with a personal message from the heart, and it has been gift-wrapped into album form for us all to enjoy. It’s clear from every single aspect of this project that the band have grown up and focused solely on their craft, fine tuning the sound and making the best music they possibly can. It is a bold stylistic change from previous work, adopting more conventional indie-rock avenues, but the ways in which they deliver this are stellar.
The compassionately composed opener Sleep Alone hits you with gorgeous production, mellow shoe-gaze style guitar chords and poignant drum beats, while Dylan switches vocal styles effortlessly to crown a wonderful opener all about heartbreak. That is then followed by a couple of the album’s singles in Loose Ends and Cool & Calm, contrasting songs in their approaches as the former provides far more of an upbeat bop feel, but of the two I definitely prefer Cool & Calm, easily one of the strongest tracks on the whole record. It has some killer production and wonderful vocal performance both in the rap-inspired verses and the hushed tones that follow.
Perhaps the most intriguing song on the album is Another Episode, a song that appears to address multiple topics including allegations, Dylan’s mental health and the destruction of a previous relationship. There’s serious power behind his impassioned vocals as he proclaims “we been playin’ in the Devil’s backyard” when talking about how “the gods are hungry for my soul to take”. Now this is almost certainly in reference to the allegations made against his name, but why this verse in particular is so great is because it sparks wider imagery of a girl, or even his mental state and addictions; creating a widespread landscape of struggle. Another Episode serves, to me at least, as the catalyst behind the entire album’s message.
This album isn’t without it’s flaws, the sound can at times be accused of being too formulaic and structured, using too many of the same techniques throughout the project (the echoed vocal harmonies all sounding vaguely alike or the single string guitar playing becoming a bit too predictable). Tracks like Sunsick Moon and Junk fall victim of this but this doesn’t make them bad necessarily, just lacking a killer punch. I would have to say that this album fades slightly towards the latter stages but that could well be down to the sheer quality of the first six songs.
Overall it’s a very strong release from a band who have endured an awful lot over the past few years. Fingers have been pointed (not sticky one either), anger has been directed, but they’ve handled themselves in the best way possible. Simply getting their heads down, focusing on recovery as well as honing the craft of life’s most beautiful art form: music. It’s a heart-warming tale of bouncing back from difficult moments but not being afraid to reflect on those times; Yours To Keep is a mature and enjoyable listen from a band who have returned to the helm of prominence.
Be sure to listen to Yours To Keep here: