I vacuum the CD into iTunes with trepidation. I’m about to review the début album from the most feted Irish live act since Whipping Boy. Fight Like Apes make energetic, clever, sexy music – pop punk in the best possible sense. Live, the band are stunningly entertaining, shooting about the stage drenched in sweat, MayKay screaming and flipping her banshee mane, Pockets headbangin’ in a karate headband like he’s about to loaf his synth in two. After released critically two acclaimed EP’s – ‘How Am I Suppose To Kill You If You Have All the Guns’, ‘David Carradine Is A Bounty Hunter Whos Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch’, the band are set to release their first feature length record at the end of the month. So what does it sound like?
Straight off the bat, vocals are noticeably cleaner, ‘Jake Summers’ is still a great song, now faster and sounding more like early 90’s “crunch sticky indie pop” (i.e.: Nerdy Girl) than a synthy Hole – eroding the destination between the intro and the ‘that’s not nice what you did to me’ interlude and replacing MayKay’s wonderfully angry ‘fuuuuuck’ with a weaker group chant. ‘Lend Me Your Face’ has been tinkered with, varying the synth tones that run over the intro, it’s more rounded but loses some of it’s furious smirk. ‘Battle Stations’ features sharper guitar and more developed farty synths, but the softer vocals may divide fans, especially in the synth-horn section. ‘Do you Karate?’ sounds less flat and fuzzy overall especially on the ‘shit shit shit shit bang bang’ shouty bit ™.
Of the new tracks ‘Digifucker’, a simple bass heavy track built around almost squeaky chiptuneque synth, horns and scuzzy guitar, is pretty. ‘I’m Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me’, an imaginary exchange of letters between the band and a former manager, easily lives up to the bands older material, complete with trademark hilarious shouty bits ‘Suplex, suplex, suplex backbreaker’ and ‘You’re So Fired’. It could be the best track on the album. ‘Lumpy Dough’ is a great ‘You Are the Hat ‘ style, lush dreamy track, reminiscent of Moon Safari era Air minus the vocoder. ‘You Are the Hat ‘ incidentally makes an appearance on the albums vinyl release. ‘Something Global’ – already released as the albums début single, is poppy with a catchy ironic ‘gimme my hook’ hook. ‘Recyclable Ass’, despite its awesome chiptuny intro, and ‘Tie me up with Jackets’ are fun but less memorable. ‘Knucklehead’, a great Something Global b-side (available on the bands MySpace), didn’t make the cut. All the new tracks share MayKay’s trademark acerbic nonsense lyrics, bitchy-silly catch phrases that somehow never quite sound trivial.
Interesting, the album seems to have been mixed for headphones rather than speakers, an odd choice for a grungy act. Tracks like the final cut ‘Snore Bore Whore’, work far better on a good pair of cans (sic).
The cover, featuring artwork by Analogue photographer Loreana Rushe (which I’m told folds out into a huge poster for you ass), is a throwback to the bands first single (‘David Carradine..’) featuring a skeletal figure carrying, you’ve guessed it, a golden medallion.
Fight Like Apes may have stumbled, albeit it only slightly, into the over clean production trap that lies in wait for Irish acts (what’s so wrong with lo-fi?), but the fresh tracks on this album are strong enough that those worried about FLapes future should have few concerns.
The new album will be available to stream from midnight tonight (Thursday 18th September) on Entertainment.ie. Fight like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion is available in shops and online from September 26th for a very reasonable €14.99.