God – My Pal

It’s a succinct and audacious move to call your band GOD. Inevitably bound to put a few noses out of joint (this was the still conservative 80s after all), but ultimately you can’t go wrong. You’re God, after all. For the name to be taken by a bunch of Australian teenagers seems all the more sweeter. I’ll come right out now and say it, but “My Pal,” (Au Go Go, 1987) is one of the greatest songs ever written, one of the greatest debut singles of all time; signed, sealed and delivered by a bunch of fucking pimple-faced kids from Melbourne. Isn’t it wonderful?

Teen angst/unpopularity/loneliness as a musical theme is the most hackneyed overdone ideas ever. Perfected it in the ’60s, ditched in favour of getting stoned and getting laid in the ’70s, and then tortured to fucking death in the ’80s. At least GOD saw the flipside here. Instead of the generic “oh me!” it’s a vitriolic “oh you!” And there’s no sugar-coating this. No need for fifth-form poetry. Just tell it like it is, because as they say, when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

“My Pal” starts off like a car revving its engine — cycling through that five note riff as the drums and bass pick up speed as the tempo triples and the screaming, overdriven guitars are split down the middle by Joel Silbersher’s barely restrained vocals, placing himself so far outside the in-crowd that he’s standing alone — “to be a party head/is something I could never do/I don’t like no-one/except for you”. Listening to “My Pal” is like watching a fight in a schoolyard. The simple, repeated accusation “you’re my only friend/but you don’t even like me,” hits like a brick through a window, and twenty years on, the only way you could improve “My Pal” is if it came with a punch in the face.