From Melbourn Australia postpunk finest Australian Rolling Stne described like this:
The self-titled debut from Melbourne punk quartet Bench Press starts in the filthy underbelly, as the barely audible vocals on “Hey Man” shove and shout their way to be (at best) side-by-side with the sludgy loop, while sharper squeals of feedback interject, teasingly showing us that the whole merged mess is only ever seconds away from complete collapse.
That’s one side.
The album’s other bookend immediately follows. The minimal “Burning Up” brings vocalist Jack Stavrakis into the spotlight who, while sporadically flanked by a choir of chants, leads the anxiety-provoking proceedings with perfectly undirected, conversational Eddy Current-esque quotables (“this is something brand new, an unwanted gift”).
Varying measures of these different delivery methods are dished out on all that follows, as Stavrakis steers the doomed ship between buried-alive desperation and snarling belligerence.
“Group Anxiety” stays true to its name, a throttling tense rhythm is pushed along by shouted statements, delivered as final dire proclamations (“world’s getting smaller”), even when seemingly positive (“shit is getting better”). “Stop Start Go” is the playful motivation lecture the pub-punk scene never knew it needed (“upon reflection, you’re not doing so bad”), while “Wanna Go?” sways with the same hazy drunken drift as the characters in the bar ballad it dissects.
Elsewhere, “I Don’t Like You” — the album’s most instantly accessible (and borderline ‘catchy’) moment — finds Stavrakis taming the chaos, his clutter-clearing, taunting hook giving him a moment of unmatched dominance on an album that ultimately pits his often-strained, pulpit delivered sermons — which switch from compact MacKaye-ist plainspokenness to a more emotive gruff tone reminiscent of Philadelphia’s Restorations — against an always-ready-to-strike platter of ear-bleeding guitar noise and rhythms of goey-paced panicked heartbeat, all hell-bent on throwing the whole thing off course.
It’s a beautiful, fucked up ride, that Stavrakis says primarily is “all about introspection”. He adds that Bench Press lyrically focuses on “looking closely at yourself and being honest about your own situation in an attempt to better understand how you feel, to learn from this and to be the best you can be.”