Music / Premieres
Agency - Long Gone
Words by Doug Wallen
Wednesday 17th June, 2020
Canberra quartet Agency come roaring back with their first new music since 2016, a gnashing post-punk bruiser that’s equally anthemic and agitated.
A whole lot has changed since Agency released their 2015 album The Stillness of Speed - and not just in the world at large. Within the band, guitarist/keyboardist Sia Ahmad was the victim of a traumatic hotel room burglary following Agency’s weeklong tour of Malaysia, putting the band on hold as a result. She has since come out as transfemme, releasing the emotional solo album “quiver” as Shoeb Ahmad in 2018.

When Agency hit pause, most of a new album had already been written. Following a pair of digital EPs in 2016 - I Know I'm In Flames and Do We Go It Alone? - as well as a remix EP and an electronic collaboration with engineer Casey Rice’s solo guise Designer, the six-song LP Wild Possession is slated for independent release on July 3. The first taste is a radio edit of opener ‘Long Gone’, a powerful statement that should appeal to fans of Fugazi and Constantines.

Anchored by Luke Robert's frayed shouts and hefty bass line, it’s a moody triumph that packs plenty of bracing dynamics into under three minutes. Roberts say it’s about “rusted-on, outdated ideologies and callous, profiteer policy-making” (all too appropriate for a band based in Canberra) while also acknowledging inspiration from David Lynch’s 1990 film Wild at Heart - even borrowing the touchstone line “this whole world's wild at heart and weird on top.” Meanwhile, Ahmad notes the influence of Sonic Youth in some of the song’s unconventional tunings and arrangements, as well as the spectre of Girls Against Boys’ Scott McCloud in Roberts’ singing.

Informed by the urgency of newfound drummer Hayden Fritzlaff from Moaning Lisa, Wild Possession was recorded over just a few days in Ahmad’s Brick Lane studio space, engineered and mixed by Sydney multi-hyphenate Jonathan Boulet (Party Dozen). Stripping away the more atmospheric layers of recent Agency releases, the album hones in on a grappling, flinty live-band sound for the most part, though still with guest turns from violist Hannah de Feyter (Alphamale), trumpeter Joel Saunders (Spirit Bunny), cellist Peter Hollo (Tangents) and The Nation Blue/Harmony frontman Tom Lyngcoln.

With a third drummer now in Peter Krbavac (New Age Group, TV Colours) - since Fritzlaff departed after recording the album to focus on Moaning Lisa - Agency will release Wild Possession on Bandcamp’s next fee-free day, Friday July 3 (starting at 6pm AEST). And since June 5, the band have been donating all of their proceeds from music sales to Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Pay The Rent and Black Lives Matter. Until we’re able to see them live again, the album will be Agency’s impactful calling card.

Agency's forthcoming album Wild Possession comes out on Friday, July 3rd.