More than one in five Australians die of heart disease, which means that one member of the Fauves can expect to expire while clutching his chest in surprised disappointment. Indifferent bystanders watch on while thwarted paramedics minister resignedly to the stricken musician, reflecting on the irony of the title of the band’s 12th album.
“He’s trying to say something”, says a passer-by, crouching down and pressing a solicitous ear to the dying man’s parched lips. Most of the assembled have begun to drift away, but several ghoulish onlookers remain. “He said that he’s in the band”.
Explorers who didn’t find anything, the Fauves have ranged the Australian landscape for 31 years, searching fruitlessly for an inland sea where a weary middle-aged man might erect a deckchair and take the healing waters. They have released albums that have slipped down the backs of couches, been lost in the wash and left on the back seats of taxis. Long have journalists issued pro-forma three-star reviews before repairing to the second-hand music store to greedily hock their complimentary album, only to emerge indignant with less money than they spent on the parking meter.
When the Fauves were your age, they had a record deal. They shook hands with industry executives across broad desks made from endangered rainforest timber while staring blankly from 32nd storey windows onto the insignificant lives of the rest of the world. Now, the only contracts to which they are signatories say that every year you’ve got to lose a little more dignity. Can you justify being 50 and in a rock band unless you’re touring your 1975 20-million seller to negatively geared property investors who stopped listening to new music in 1988?
There it is again – 31 years. The Fauves formed in the bicentennial year of 1988, even as the tall ships were sailing into Port Phillip Bay in rude celebration of 200 years of invasion, dispossession and white supremacy. Its songs of quiet melancholy, fake positivity and misdirected longing are carefully curated to ensure that that listeners must expend maximum effort to access their favourites. You can try to skip songs but you risk scratching the record.
This is the Fauves’ wheezing marketing pitch declaiming their greatness. In the past, people preferred others. The hard rubbish was dumped on the nature strip but remains uncollected. Until the truck comes, there it lies, forgotten but not gone.