When a band has been absent for nine years, it’s important to return on any comeback album with a bang. Lucky, then, that Melbourne indie-rock trio Children Collide do just that on “Man of the People”, the opening track on their fourth album Time Itself: they come charging forth in a cavalcade of thunderous riffs and snarled vocals, a swirling mass of chaos. “Remember us?”, they seem to be asking. The loudness of their sonic scream seems to be them making up for lost time.
The band came to a sudden stop in 2012, just after the release of their third studio album Monument. “Touring as a unit is no longer pleasant, and that is that,” they declared at the time, the departure of drummer Ryan Caesar bringing a total end to the outfit. Nine years later, though, Caesar and singer Johnny Mackay have managed to heal whatever caused their rift in the first place, reuniting alongside bassist Chelsea Wheatley.
On Time Itself, their sound is noisy and earthy, the trio unshackled and clearly aiming to provoke and impress; subtlety is thrown out of the window in favour of a thumping din. “Uh Oh” follows “Man of the People” with a pounding stop/start rhythm that recalls The White Stripes. “Return to Femmes” is the sort of dirty grunge track that Children Collide have always been able to do well. The title track nods to 70s prog-rock, a sprawling and howling epic conclusion to the record.
When a band has been absent for nine years, it’s also important to recognise that music trends will have changed immeasurably. It leavesTime Itself sometimes sounding slightly old-fashioned, a little bit retro, as they carouse through various rock music forms. “Myriad Ways” and “Language is a Prison” are two speedy and serviceable post-punk songs; there are attempts at light psychedelia on the hazy “Trampoline” and “Aurora”; the hypnotic crunch of “Mind Spider” reminds one of The Smashing Pumpkins. It’s unquestionable that they pull off their myriad influences with adept aplomb; it just comes off as a tad derivative, lacking in any fearless originality.
Having overcome time itself, Children Collide’s presence in music again is far from a bad thing. It’s remarkable that they sound this sharp and severe after such a lengthy gap between releases. Their album is resolutely loud and fully enjoyable, despite small deficiencies in vision. After the determinedTime Itself, it seems there’s no chance that we’ll be waiting as long as nine years to hear from them again.