I like Peter Bibby. He’s not trying to cover anything up. His music is raw and occasionally devastating
He sings as a stranger sitting next to you at a bar, telling you his story. The whole conversation was unsolicited, sure. But it’s a good one.
The implication of Grand Champion’s title is perhaps that Peter isn’t. He’s sweet but he’s broken. ‘Palm Springs’ searches for salvation but ‘Work for Arseholes’ suggests he’s walking a path of one damned.
But back to ‘Palm Springs’. The track opens the album, spelling out the record’s thematic and melancholy tone. Spacious riffs play like Neil Young. Bibby delivers his lyrics in his distinctive manner, half-sung, half talking blues.
His tales of grim urban life aren’t always sympathetic. He’s creepy, glutenous, kleptomaniacal and hates hippies. By nature, this artist is a little rough around the edges. He’s crude.
But his redemption is in his honesty. He searches for freedom and launches into deep-felt interrogations of pain. There’s an element of bitter defeat to it all too. It’s something that marks his music as a powerful point of difference from the standard fare of Australia’s confessional singer-songwriters.
On ‘Medicine’ his voice tears. It's backed by music similarly jagged. Yet he’s not exactly caustic. There’s a warm charisma that hangs between his words.
Bibby has chosen to make love, not war. Take the country charm of ‘Pissbird Flowertruck’ as evidence of the fact. But love can be ugly. This reality bites any old way you choose it.
Bibby embraces excitement, indulgence too. But he pays an even price. He can cut across as a hedonist yet he’s also encountered the consequence. You can feel it on this record, you’re travelling through Grand Champion with him. The whole darn melodrama, start-to-finish.
Words by Riley Fitzgerald