It has been as good as five years since the release of their second album, though there was a rather satisfying EP in between, so it is fair to say that anticipation for Fight Like Apes’ new encounter across the board has been bursting with hungry excitement. It is a wait now relentlessly rewarded by each of the twelve songs making up the self-titled proposition, offerings taking ears and imagination on a unique and rebellious exploit of indie pop devilry. It really only takes one listen to establish the album as a favourite and barely a couple more to suggest it is going to cast as one of the major triumphs of 2015.
Hailing from Dublin and formed in 2006, Fight Like Apes and their synth pop/alternative rock sound has been luring in keen and potent attention ever since the release of the EPs How Am I Supposed to Kill You When You Have All the Guns? and David Carradine Is a Bounty Hunter Whose Robotic Arm Hates Your Crotch in 2007. The following year saw them nominated for two awards at the 2008 Meteor Irish Music Awards, and it has only been a continuing torrent of support and acclaim since, though equally there have been moments to challenge as with any band. Debut album Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion that same year poked a keener, broader spotlight, attention emulated and pushed to new heights by second full-length The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner in 2010. Their sound and songwriting had already found uniqueness in presence and character which has consistently evolved from release to release, song to song at times, and it is again prevalent upon the new offering. The time between albums two and three saw the band dropped by their record label but they decided to go down the crowd funding route with quick success. This meant that it has been a length wait for their new epic of fun but as hinted at by the Whigfield Sextape EP last year; the band’s return has only brought new seductive and vivaciously eccentric pleasures.
Unleashed through Alcopop! Records, the album quickly has ears and imagination immersed in its pop alchemy through I Am Not a Merry Man. A quaint electronic coaxing jabbed by firm beats initially the song is soon sauntering along with a melodic swagger and lusty bassline, and lit up further by the ever bewitching vocals of Mary-Kate “MayKay” Geraghty. Moments of feistier endeavour also clad the constantly alluring stroll, the song an inescapable flirtation for ears and thoughts with the flowing keys and backing vocals of Jamie “Pockets” Fox just as magnetic as the pulsating rhythms and prime melodic roar of MayKay.
The following Crouching Bees from a single crisp rhythmic rap is soon engulfing ears in an elegant weave of melodies carrying a slight Altered Images air and once more badgered by thickly tempting rhythms. Vocally MayKay again is as potent in casting a mellow seduction or an impassioned raucousness, her heightened delivery a fiery incitement to the calmer waters of the keys, though they too at times provide an off kilter element of their own. The infection of sound and imagination of the album is already enslaving the psyche two songs in and only increases its bait through Pop Itch and The Schillaci Sequence. The first of the pair is a more ‘regular’ canter of indie pop design, though as it is Fight Like Apes there is plenty of sparkling vocal adventure and sonic twists whilst the second sways over the senses with melodic eloquence. It too initially seems a more reserved example of the band’s invention and creative exploration but with an agitated rhythmic shuffle and Devo-esque electro psychosis it soon puts expectations straight.
Both songs keep enjoyment keen and appetite greedy, though everything is soon eclipsed by the brilliant Didya. Easily our favourite proposition on the album, maybe from the band full stop, the song ambles in on a melodic hook which is Weezer like. That alone has lips licked but it is once Pockets takes the vocal lead with a punkish anxiety to his tone that things erupt into genius. The throaty bass and wilder tempered beats are belligerent whilst the voice of MayKay similarly has a challenging edge to it, the blend a spellbinding incitement though it is the vocal bedlam which follows that has these ears and passions are enslaved. It is like a warped mix of The Dancing Did and The Ting Tings, pure creative mania and manna, setting up the listener for a blaze of a finale.
Numbnuts calms things down a touch next, its persuasive croon persistently littered with stirring vocal snaps and musical twists on the way to creating an increasingly fiery climax whilst its successor Pretty Keen on Centrefolds has ears captivated with an eighties synth pop bubbling that nudges thoughts of Blancmange and Soft Cell. Of course things are never that simple, punchy and at times bedlamic beats adding a drama to match that of the vocals whilst keys whip up a contagious tempting for the dance-floor.
Like a mix of Morningwood and Yeah Yeah Yeahs but all Fight Like Apes, The Hunk and The Funplace sculpts another major pinnacle for the album. Rhythmically anthemic and imposing, melodically spicy and slightly nostalgic, the song easily has ears engrossed but it is the roaring chorus which takes a great song to the plateau of brilliance. It is pop at its most dynamic, provocative, and irresistible.
There is no let-up of the thrills and creative spills as firstly I Don’t Want to Have to Mate with You swirls around ears and leads expectations on a merry dance. It is a lively breeze of fascinating textures and rousing calm providing a spellbinding theatre of sound and voice, emulated in its own way by Baywatch Nights with its even slower smoulder, though again there is a snarl to vocal moments, spicy intrigue to keys, and dark shadows to surrounding scenery. Both tracks make riveting listening, a norm across the album to be fair and continued in the excellent Maevis Beacon: Annihilation, a song with more than a whisper of Young Marble Giants to it especially in its opening minute or so. All tracks make a quick and thick first impression but some reveal even more to their depths and beauty over time with this a prime example.
The mesmeric seducing of Carousel brings the release to an emotive and reflective close, and a dramatic one as epic rhythms and brooding melodies rise as the song progresses. Folkish theatre and heavy tribal rhythms break free too in the scintillating end to a sensational encounter. It may have been a while in the making and coming but Fight Like Apes has spent that time crafting their most vigorously inventive and exciting sound yet. This is a must have for all experimental and rousing pop enthusiasts, actually just every pop fan out there.
Fight Like Apes is available via Alcopop! Records from 18th May @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/fight-like-apes/id981566460
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net