Credit: http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/7767604/paramore-harry-styles-sign-of-the-hard-times-new-songs, http://weheartit.com/entry/group/28536313, http://weheartit.com/entry/group/40978817

Review: how is it possible I like Harry Styles’ new album more than Paramore’s?

I am twoseven rotations into Harry Styles’ self-titled debut album, and I never in my life imagined I could care this much about a member of OneDirection, ever. I was never their target demographic. But there is something otherworldly about Harry’s excellent and un-autotuned voice paired with a searing bluesy riff that I can’t quite articulate. And, in essence, I am very confused.


Ten days ago I pressed play on After Laughter, the new album from perennial faves, Paramore. I’d heard the tracks Hard Times and Told You So just days before the whole record dropped. The wait for the rest of it nearly put me in hospital. The new sonic direction, which has been subtle but steady in progress over the course of their last two releases, tapped in to something I’ve been waiting for for quite a while–the embracing of Hayley Williams as a versatile and fucking brilliant vocalist across rock and pop tracks.

To say After Laughter is an exploration of the difficulties of passing through your mid-twenties under the weight of “potential” is an understatement. Each track is laced with frustration, or an ache of the heart, body or soul. Put to the effervescence of a peppery beat and synth riffs you’d kill your own mother to hear live, you can’t help but dance while the words claw your insides. But there’s something here that doesn’t sit flush for me.

Lyrically I don’t think this is Paramore’s strongest offering, though it is incredibly radio-friendly. Grudges, Fake Happy, Told You So and Pool are absolute standouts, but too many of the rest wash over me conceptually. I genuinely believe I would have connected more to this album last year when I was in a dimly lit shoebox of sadness, but it seems like I’m not the target for this now I’ve pushed through. What a wild turn of events.

To clarify: I bloody love this album. It’s fun, and it’s bound to be incredibly important to a lot of people. But where I found my soul exposed on Brand New Eyes, After Laughter provides a toe-tapping singalong to a soundtrack I might once have found solace in.


Conversely, while he’s got a ways to go before he packs a walloping punch to my guts emotionally, Harry Styles gives me enough lusty Rolling Stones-meets-The Beatles britpop boppers (Only Angel is sublime, as is follow-up Kiwi) punctuated with soulful acoustic-driven reflections (From The Dining Table and Ever Since New York tower) to make it one of my favourite albums of 2017 so far.

I know, what the fuck?


Musically speaking, comparing these two albums is admittedly pretty unfair. While both are pop by definition, the direction and tone of each is very different. A young man fresh from the grips of one of the world’s biggest boybands explores his newfound musical freedom (and collection of guitars) to talk a lot about ladies, versus a band who’ve been through the rollercoaster of a new line-up on almost every album they’ve released since their 2007 breakthrough, Riot!, delving into the depths of their own mental health, and relationships of all kinds building and breaking. But here we are. It’s done now.

TL;DR: There are perfect pop tunes abounds on both of these albums, but weirdly, today, it’s Harry’s britpop magic over Hayley & The Gang’s synth soul.

Cool Stuff Sunday

Hello again darlings! It’s been a little while since I posted, so I’m sorry for skipping a few months. There’s been a few significant personal changes afoot, but I’m back for the week.

Let’s kick today off with this wonderful #longread by Gillian Dooley over at The Conversation on the enduring strength of Jane Austen, and the reasons why her works are much more than ‘courtship novels’.

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Continuing with bookish links and general heroes, take a look at every book Emma Watson (AKA Hermione Granger AKA Belle AKA my OG kween) has ever recommended in the public sphere. *cries* why are there so many books to be read!? My shelves are breaking!

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This wonderful piece on queerness over at Catalogue Mag is what I wish I could have read when I was 13.

There hasn’t been an easy answer to this question, because the world hasn’t made it an easy one to ask in the first place. But honestly, I don’t think you need to know if you are gay, or not. We’ve known for a really long time that sexuality is sliding scale but that doesn’t get enforced in our education, or societal conditioning, because queerness pretty much evades all the shitty pigeon-holing that keeps capitalism in place. So chill, I know! You don’t need to be ‘sure’ of anything to identify as queer. The strange, hetero prerequisite that you have to ‘know where you stand’ – be it bi, or 80% or only in movies, or when you masturbate, or 20% – only exists because of the pervasive, dangerous fear of the ‘other’. Going back to dominant cultures: they have to label everything because if it isn’t immediately ‘understood’ then it doesn’t exist. This is BS. You don’t need to be ‘sure’ of anything. Be mutable! Fall in love at will, in big and small ways! All ways! Remember: no one is ever asking straight folk to prove themselves.

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And because I can’t go a week without talking about music (ps, Paramore’s ‘after laughter’ album review in the works) here’s an oral history of Hanson’s debut album Middle of Nowhere. Don’t pretend you don’t fucking love MMMBop. It’s pop perfection.

Cool Stuff Sunday

The bloody Oscar nominations are out and I am SO HAPPY because Tanna has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film! I’m also stoked for Land of Mine, a Scandinavian film on the clearing of landmines from the coastlines of Europe after the second World War, and the fact that Arrival (a genre film) has been given a nod for Best Feature. Literally cried that Lin-Manuel Miranda has the chance to become the youngest EGOT recipient ever for his track How Far I’ll Go from the Moana soundtrack, and that Lion–an Australian film!–has been recognised across multiple categories. Speaking of Lion, are you wondering why Dev Patel has been relegated to the Best Supporting Actor nominee when he is clearly a lead? Take a look at this piece by Stephen A Russell for SBS on the push for a new category to recognise the contribution of stellar casts

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I grew up listening to a pretty eclectic collection of music thanks to my punk Dad and my hippie Mum. Van Morrison was on frequent rotation, and I know that my mum will weep desperately when he stops making music (ie dies because he’ll never stop tbh). Anyway, BBCRadio ran a program last week on the influence of Van’s incredible career, and it is magic (Glen Hansard is my foreverking and I never tire of his rendition of Into The Mystic). If you’re a Brown Eyed Girl like me, catch it before the link expires on February 20!

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Adaptations are swell when they’re done right. But with such a wealth of top-notch literature coming out of Australia, why aren’t we (or any other filmmaking country for that matter) optioning more of it for screen? Mark Poole looked into this over at The Guardian back in 2014, but it’s just as relevant today.

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Anne Gracie is by far one of my favourite romance writers, and all-round excellent human being. Over on her blog, she’s got tips on procrastination, beating perfectionism and getting on with your writing. Thanks Anne!

Cool Stuff Sunday

Okay so I’m gonna caveat this link with the statement that some of the opinions in this article about self-publishing in order to live as a veritable nomad are laughable (traditional publishing is not dying, you utter bellend), BUT, I read this and felt semi-inspired to get back into my writing projects, so thought I’d share.

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On that, are you looking for more opportunities to spend some time focused on your writing projects? Aerogramme Writers Studio have collated this maaaaaaassive list of writing residencies and fellowships in 2017 from around the globe. BRB, applying for all the things.

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YouTube came the fuck through for me with this UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE Hollywood Reporter roundtable with two of my husbands, Donald Glover and Lin-Manuel Miranda, PLUS Damien Chazelle (of Whiplash and La La Land directorial fame), fierce kween Issa Rae (*dies*) and everyone’s favourite dad, Jon Favreau. Holy HECK this was the best hour of my week BY FAR.

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And lastly for today, over on Junkee, Rebecca Varcoe takes a look at the disparity of experience in the arts. So much of this rings true, but, I don’t know what’s next. Lots to ponder.

Cool Stuff Sunday

Did you take your Myers-Briggs personality test yet? No? Okay well go do it and learn some shit about yourself. THEN, head to this brilliant Psychology Junkie article to identify your stressors. It gives incredibly useful tips about reacting to and relieving stress according to each personality type. As an ISFJ, this is too real and terrifyingly so.

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I fucking love Too Many Zooz after catching a video of them busking in the subway. I share that video every time it comes up in my Facebook feed, to the extent that my friends and fam now tag me whenever they see TMZ or Lucky Chops clips. Today, in the comment thread on a Lucky Chops performance I’ve seen a couple of times, I found this freaking GEM of Too Many Zooz busking at Christmas time. There are many santas and elves splashing cash and it’s all very adorable. Do yourself a favour and spend 10 minutes on this atrocious display of talent. The mind boggles, really.

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Everyone in the world who has a brain and/or emotions is grappling with the feelings that are accompanying the imminent departure of dream team Barack Obama and Joe Biden from The White House. To ease your suffering, take a look at this recap of some of the best Obaden memes from the last few months.

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For the last month or so, I’ve been bingeing on The Hook Up–a podcast of the Triple J segment that airs every Sunday night. The podcast, hosted by supermegababe Hannah Reilly, covers all manner of topics to do with sex, relationships and everything in between and it is bloody excellent. Even episodes dealing with topics I’d never thought to look into further (the recent show on living with HIV for example) are enlightening, funny and incredibly moving in some instances, and provide perspectives that maybe you didn’t know you needed to hear. Go check it.

Cool Stuff Sunday

Kicking off today with this blistering piece over on Junkee about just how important intersectional feminism is ❤

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The Urban List has done up a handy (and also Expedia-sponsored) list of tips for when you’re thinking about planning your next trip overseas. Get packing!

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When I was roadtripping around England with my Mum, we stopped in Winchester for a number of reasons. One of them was to glimpse the famed Round Table of the Arthurian Legends, but as luck would have it, The Great Hall was closed the day we passed through. Good job, life. Anyway, if the words “arthurian legends” or “round table” mean nothing to you, The Conversation has enlisted Arthurian scholar Amy Brown to talk us through the basics of the stories.

For good measure, here’s the ridiculous but infinitely watchable trailer for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur adaptation, set for release in March.

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Are you vaguely terrible with money? Perhaps you’re like me and have almost always none because shitty wage + outrageous cost of living is fucked? Here are eight tips to help you kick your year off right.

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I am literally dying with excitement about these 12 Australian films to catch in 2017. Lion was by far one of the most moving and honest things I’ve ever seen, so I can’t wait to see what else is in store for filmgoers this year.

Cool Stuff Sunday: New Years edition

Holy shit guys, we’ve finally made it! Good-fucking-bye to you, 2016; see you in the seventh circle of hell!

New year, new stuff. Have a bunch of great ways to kick off your 2017.

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Make sure you’re practicing some self-care this year. We’ve all had a shithouse time of it for the last 365 days, so pull your socks up and employ some of these tips to look after yourselves, babes ❤

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Something that wasn’t shit about 2016 was the amount of incredible literature published. The Guardian asked some of Australia’s best-loved authors for their tops picks from 2016.

On the topic of “best of 2016” lists: the 50 best podcasts, and the 10 worst movies!

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Make a resolution to get off your butt and get healthy this year? I probably did. Find your new running track in Brisbane here, take a holiday for your health here, pack better work lunches here, and if you just wanna work on yourself in the privacy and comfort of your own home, here are 5 core strengthening exercises that require only one thing: a wall.

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If you want to travel more in 2017, get reading:

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And finally, if you’ve set your sights on the dating scene, or just need some new ideas to enliven date night with your number one bae (I’m so sorry, I wrote this in 2016 and bae will definitely never appear in any future CSS posts), The Cusp have put together some super ideas that won’t empty your wallet.

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Go forth into the bright sunshine of a new year my sweet babies. You deserve it x

Cool Stuff Sunday: Christmas edition

Look, I really hate Christmas, so let’s get this shit out of the way alright? Merry whatever-you-celebrate (it’s Festivus for me if you’re wondering). Now, let’s get down to some bizness.

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Did my annual rewatch of Love, Actually on Friday night, and in amongst yelling at the terrible parts (since when is ‘telling the truth at Christmas’ a thing?! IT’S NOT, EVERYONE SHUTUP!) I found this amazingly funny piece on Pajiba about the many many workplace issues that arise throughout. Take these fuckers to HR!

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As a lover of Emily Brontë’s works–both poetry and prose–I am always fascinated by the mystery surrounding who she really was. Having visited the Brontë parsonage back in 2007, and being in the beautiful surroundings of Haworth, it’s easy to see how someone could get lost in their own stories there. As such, I’m very happy to report there’s a new narrative about the life of the Brontë sisters on BBC One this Christmas, which delves into the period when all three were working on their first novels. Will have to find a way to watch all the way down here in Australia!

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Feminism + books = ❤ ❤ ❤

I’m very excited to read every single book on this list (and I highly, HIGHLY recommend Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar, because it is a fucking treasure of a book, and so is she).

So get your hands on some incredible writing about feminism by incredible feminists and get educated!

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If you’ve got some time off for the Christmas/New Year period this week, why not spend some of your time with one (or more!) of these fascinating documentaries? Head back to work in January and amaze your coworkers with your intimate knowledge about the enigmatic Rodriguez, or the deeply troubling revolution in Egypt, or Cuba or the Ukraine. At least then you won’t have to talk about your homophobic uncle, right?

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Letters to Santa by Shakespeare characters sounds like the best and worst thing I’ve ever heard, but here we are and I am happy to confirm they are soooooo worth reading. I think my fave is probably Hamlet’s letter, but tbh that’s most likely to reflect my dark as fuck disposition currently. R&J and Puck also rate mentions ❤ Cheers McSweeneys!

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I am a HUGE fan of Dev Patel, and have been since falling madly in love with his character, Anwar, in Skins. His latest feature, Lion, is due for release in about a month here in Australia, and I am basically clawing my skin off with the anticipation.  Anyway, here’s an adorable as all get out interview with Dev in GQ. Also that plaid suit *hearteyes*

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As we head into a new year, and a fafillion New Years Resolutions flood your social media feeds, take a squiz at this excellent piece over at The Cusp on how to kickstart your drive and motivation. If you feel like you’re trudging over the finish line of 2016 and need some simple guidance to getting your mojo back, click the link click the link click the link.

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Right. I’m off to air my grievances. Happy Sunday!

Cool Stuff Sunday

Firstly, sorry for last week’s sad one-link post! I started collating my weekly finds and then conveniently just… didn’t. So anyway, enjoy this make-up post ❤

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I find prison an incredibly interesting environment from an outside perspective, and recently, Buzzfeed partnered with the Howard League for Penal Reform to publish inmate diaries from one day in September this year. Interesting to read just how boring it can be.

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Thinking of packing up shop and moving overseas? I know I am. Check out these handy tips over at The Cusp on doing it without fucking up!

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My cousin Mal recently took a trip back to Tanna Island to discover more about our ancestor, Tommy, and his trip from Tanna to Queensland back in the 1800s. He found some incredible things out, including the fact Tommy wasn’t blackbirded as we had long suspected, but in fact desperately wanted to get off the island. #themoreyouknow

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How is this even real? *cries*

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Okay so apparently there are people who can’t visualise things in their mind. These people are called aphantasiacs, and one of them has written this amazing insight into discovering he had it. Humans are so weird and I absolutely love it.

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Cool Stuff Sunday

Further to last week’s NatGeo list, take a gander at AWOL’s top 15 places to visit in 2017 and get booking!

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Some absolutely beautiful photos from the opening day of Disneyland in 1955 over at Buzzfeed! (omg can we just take a moment for the PERFECT Debbie Reynolds tho?! *crying*)

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The session made it clear just how much of a marathon the filmmaking process is, especially at the high end. Seven months of negotiating with Universal. Half a year waiting for Winslet. Two years of convincing a private investor to pony up part of the $2 million gap, to go along with the negotiations for facilities deals and producer contribution that made up the rest of it. Five years to get rights. A year of waiting because Winslet got pregnant, which added two million to the budget and forced Maslin to have to rejig the financing (money doesn’t wait around). Seven years to get from option to screen.

The Dressmaker is one of my favourite films from 2015, and recently, producer Sarah Maslin broke down the details for financing the project. Some great insights into the depths she researched and planned for, and some actual numbers for all you budding filmmakers out there.

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Instead of an interjection of “I’m not racist, but…”, or “I have Asian friends and they make jokes like this all the time”, perhaps the next phrase to come out of your mouth should be, “tell me more about this, I’m listening”. We all have much to learn from one another, and it can be difficult to make progress when all you can hear is a cacophony of voices, shouting over each other, and unwilling to make compromises.

My pal, Yen-Rong Wong is an amazing human, and also wrote this excellent piece for Catalogue on Australia’s rampant casual racism.

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The Australian Romance Readers Association recently collated responses from their annual readers survey which has delivered some super interesting results in terms of genres and ages of the romance reading demographic. You can read the findings, and a link to the full list of results at the link above.

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Since being diagnosed with PCOS two years ago, I’ve been trying to figure out how to manage my symptoms without resorting to the Pill, and having decided not to approach with hormonal supplements, I’ve been at a loss as to how to go about finding the right alternative. Today, a friend posted a link to this excellent piece over at MindBodyGreen on natural things you can do right now to manage symptoms of PCOS. Generally speaking I’m not the world’s biggest natural medicine advocate, but Mum’s a naturopath so I’ve always been surrounded by it, and I’m so thrilled to have found a place that’s encouraging PCOS-ers to approach it with natural solutions.

Cool Stuff Sunday

The Hamilton Mixtape is gonna drop real soon, and I’m dying with anticipation, but in the meantime, I’m spending every available moment on Lin-Manuel’s soundcloud account. It’s an incredible insight into his writing process. One of the most mind-blowing tracks (aside from the haunting demo of Satisfied) is this early draft of My Shot, complete with extended HERCULES MULLIGANNNNNNN (soz had to) verse:

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Looking to travel somewhere there are fewer crowds or less tourists to combat in queues at beautiful landmarks? NatGeo have put out a great list of 10 places that need more travellers. A couple of spots out of left field, but Armenia looks pretty freaking lovely, and I’ve always wanted to see Nepal.

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Continuing with the travel thing, now that I’m itching to get on a plane again now, here are some practical tips to saving your hard-earned cash for your next trip, thanks to my pal Tofu Traveler. I really am going to have to say goodbye to Apple Music, aren’t I?

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Silverchair is one of the best bands to come out of Australia probably ever, and I was stoked to find Triple J have done a huge retrospective on the J Files podcast. Catch the episode–featuring a pretty in-depth chat between The Doctor and Daniel Johns, and the accompanying four-chapter breakdown. Epic.

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As a lifelong Potterhead, it’s been interesting to watch the growth and expansion of the Potterverse since part two of The Deathly Hallows was released. This wonderful piece over on Buzzfeed really gets to the heart of how strange it feels to not be excited by more of something I have loved since I was 11. (FYI, I definitely, absolutely, unequivocally want a TV series about the Hogwarts Founders, so if someone at Netflix can run with this, that’d be super.)

With the Harry Potter franchise, it’s not an issue of quantity — it’s one of quality. The community around Harry Potter is used to being overwhelmed by material. They were revolutionary in that field, innovating what it meant to be a fan in the age of the internet, and serving as a gateway to many of what we consider the major fandoms and pop-cultural phenomena of the past decade.

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And to round off the day, here is my pal Simon Groth with the only response to Dylan’s Nobel Prize I care about. Absolutely spot on. A+. Five stars. Etc.