In late-2019, Aurora – this Johnny Mackay vehicle’s first single in seven-plus years – hurtled towards us like a mega-comet ablaze, promising great things from Time Itself: the first Children Collide album in nearly a decade.

Returning from his psych-pop project Fascinator, the enigmatic Mackay has admitted his favourite thing about one of this album’s singles, Uh Oh, is getting to sing these lyrics: “Like an emu scratching ‘round in the outback of my mind” (after rhyming “boo-boo” with “voodoo”, mind you). This standout track also features an anthemic, Seven Nation Army-saluting riff.

New bassist Chelsea Wheatley flexes during the face-melting Turrets: an explosive, arena-ready slow burn that’s elevated by suspenseful dynamics and choruses that cry out for a stadium chant-along (“All I want is someone I can believe in”). Wait, is that theremin? We’re not worthy.

An escalating riff intros SPS (“Self Preservation Society”) with some urgency before accusations are hurled: “Ya never cared about women’s rights… people of colour… queer culture…” Elsewhere: Trampoline conjures Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds; Funeral For A Ghost’s soft-loud structure is trademark Children Collide; and Mind Spider’s sinewy guitar solo truly embodies the song’s title.

Alongside Mackay’s magnetism, it’s the supple, mind-melting riffs and dank bass that define the Children Collide sound. Bombastic but never vacuous, Time Itself glances sideways at Blur, The Beatles, The Stooges and Pond. We had seriously forgotten just how much we need Children Collide in our lives.

Time Itself by Children Collide is out Aug 27 via Spinning Top.

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