There’s probably a fairly decent grassroots biopic or screenplay lurking within the minutiae of the Vietnam backstory.
From the band’s punky activist Wainuiomata roots in 1980, to live gigging in small suburban halls, to studio sessions which yielded one solitary EP, all the way through to a couple of high profile television appearances, Vietnam’s flame burned brightly if all-too briefly.
When the band broke up in 1985 they were destined to become a mere footnote in the storied history of Wellington’s 1980s post-punk scene. Until 2016, that is, when the eponymous EP was picked up, expanded, and re-released by Spanish label, BFE. A reunion gig followed in early 2017, which led to fresh momentum and new work. That meant recording sessions in locations as culturally diverse as Sydney and Levin, with the result being the album that eventually became ‘This Quiet Room’.
Released in early 2022, and preceded by punchy advance single What Have I Done?, the album is an absorbing collection of tracks conceived both during the band’s original incarnation, and those of a more recent vintage; one part throwback to a bygone era, and one part excursion into state of the art post-punk, circa 2022. There’s a strong (old) new wave feel, there’s power pop, some jangle, and no little amount of social commentary.
There’s also a very cool cover of Wire’s Kidney Bingos, which threatens to be the best thing here. But that would perhaps be an injustice to the remaining 10 tracks on offer. Listen out too for Leon, a brief interlude featuring original drummer Leon Reedijk, who passed away in 2017.
Band originals Shane Bradbrook (vocals) and Adrian Workman (bass, synths, vocals) are on top form throughout, and their presence is key to pulling all constituent parts into a very cohesive whole. ‘This Quiet Room’ is a compelling comeback from a long lost band, a triumph over adversity even, and if some bright spark ever does script that biopic, it’ll just as likely be the first-ever Vietnam movie with a happy ending.