Album Revies: Fight Like Apes – Fight Like Apes

Breaking out of Ireland has always been a hassle for even the most celebrated bands. Fight Like Apes developed their riotous live shows and endearingly scrappy new wave/synth-pop hybrid sound for four years, but their old label went under, and it looked like the writing was on the wall for them. Even a successful crowd-funding campaign might not have been enough for the quartet if things had gone even slightly differently; after all, bands’ fortunes can change so quickly. They were saved by Alcopop! Records last year, who released their ‘Whigfield Sextape’ EP as a precursor to their long-gestating third album. Sounding relatively more polished than the bare-bones approach of their second LP ‘The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner’, the four-track effort included the gleeful lead track ‘Crouching Bees’, a song which indicated that they had lost none of their hook-writing smarts despite years in limbo (reprised here along with‘The Hunk and the Fun Palace’).

Save for a few trips across the Irish Sea to promote its predecessor, this is the first real opportunity FLA have had to connect with a wider audience, and they go all out. True to their punk spirit, however, these are pop songs with an impressively DIY sound. Not as raw as the earlier likes of ‘Jenny Kelly’ and ‘Poached Eggs’, the self-titled set finds the band rediscovering themselves and pushing their sound forward – opener ‘I Am Not A Merry Man’ finds them at their best, its punchy rhythms and effervescent synths signalling an evolution rather than a radical shift in sound – while retaining the sense of fun that was all over their previous material. While the album title is more straightforward than, say, ‘How Am I Supposed To Kill You If You Have All The Guns?’ (from 2007), one of its standouts is a song called ‘I Don’t Want To Have To Mate With You’, which is acerbic as its title suggests. As for their extensive library of cultural references, where else would you expect to find Mavis Beacon, Jabba The Hutt, and Arsenal defender Sébastien Squillaci popping up on the same record?

‘Fight Like Apes’ can sound a little unfocused at times, but its hit rate is quite high; ‘Pop Itch’ and closing track ‘Carousel’ are sleeper hits in waiting, while ‘Pretty Keen On Centrefolds’,/I>, tossed about in their live sets for three years, is surely set to become their new signature song, a perfect mix of high energy and their usual slew of instantly memorable lyrics, topped off by leader Mary-Kate Geraghty’s (better known as MayKay) pristine vocals (well, as pristine as FLA are ever likely to get). By contrast, bassist Jamie “Pockets” Fox’s vocals are an acquired taste, as heard on ‘Didya’ (shouty, spirited, thick Dublin accent – triple check), but hearing him trade lines with MayKay is a delight; more of this, please. On their third album, Fight Like Apes are as vibrant as ever. There was no need to fix what was never broken, but with solid ground under their feet again, perhaps they can shake things up a little more next time.

3.5/5

‘Fight Like Apes by Fight Like Apes is out now on Alcopop! Records.

Fight Like Apes links: Facebook|Twitter|

Words by Gareth O’Malley (@riversidemethod)

Leave a Reply