Though it will not be the fiercest most hostile offering you will come up against this year, there is definitely a visceral rawness to the debut album from UK trio Fawn Spots which has the senses curling up like paint on a wall under extreme heat. From Safer Place is a furious yet creatively magnetic seduction which rages with a belligerent hardcore and punk voracity whilst smouldering with a noise rock and post punk invention. It is also a massive grower, from a strong and captivating first impression becoming one inescapable proposition drawing ears back again and again with growing eagerness.
Hailing from York, Fawn Spots emerged in 2011, originally as a duo with the intent to “push how much noise two people could make.” One or two line-up changes has led to vocalists/guitarist Jonathan Meager and Oliver Grabowski alongside newest member, drummer Paddy Carley, now standing before the world with From Safer Place in their creative hands. Written and recorded in sheds located in an abandoned Georgian garden and lyrically inspired by T. S. Eliot and Jean Paul Sartre amongst others, the album is a stirring foraging of the senses and sparking of the imagination. It retains the intensity which has already fuelled the band’s sounds and sonic assaults but explores even greater twists of invention and twisted enterprise, its songs barbarous but also ingeniously unpredictable.
New Sense stirs the blood first, its opening sonic yawn the prelude to a maelstrom of aggravated rhythms and caustic riffs raged over by bracing and instantly appealing vocals. Hooks are just as swift a lure too, almost taunting from within the smoggy air of the track. It has to be said that initially the closed in, claustrophobic air to songs took a while to acclimatise to. It did not defuse the success and weight of the persuasions but certainly distracted for the first couple of tracks before slipping into place and becoming part of the inventive furniture of From Safer Place.
The strong start is matched by I’m Not a Man; I Never Will Be, its more controlled entrance just a deceit as it too is soon a tempestuous storm of riff and rhythmic confrontation. Barely passing a minute in length, the track throws in the irresistible hook or two also, successful bait courted by a great heavy bassline as the temperature and temptation of the album continues to rise through it and find new heights via the spicy causticity of A Certain Pleasure. The band has understandably been compared to the likes of Rites of Spring, Husker Du, and Mission of Burma, but the third track, and not alone in this, sparks thoughts of older bands like The Fire Engines and Wire, if lost in the blistering causticity of At the Drive In. The track sparks new greed in an already contented appetite for the album, its potency emulated and surpassed again by the outstanding Black Water. Sinister in its melodies and vocal harmonies, toxic in its sonic enterprise, the track is post punk at its most addictively inventive and predatory.
Natural Vision returns to the smoky and oppressive texture of the beginning for its persuasion but turns in on itself with minimalist hooks and melodies which vein the intensive rhythmic and abrasing examination of the senses. Though the track leaves a satisfied smile in its wake it lacks the striking spark of the songs around it, as emphasized by the album’s title track. There is a feel of Josef K in some ways to the next song, as well as a brawling punk ferocity which vocally and rhythmically pulls no punches. It is an exciting peach of a bruising on ears and psyche, and almost poppy in its infectiousness.
The heavy rhythmic entrance of Remains sets the scene for an agitated dance of psychotic beats and brawling vocals bound in a tapestry of toxic melodies and piercing hooks next. It is a glorious violation and imagination sparking incitement which has to bow a little to the superb In Front of the Chesnut Tree which follows. Its start is ripe with choppy dark bass pokes whilst the soon joining melodic winery is pure XTC, though it all evolves swiftly into an even more apparent Joy Division blossomed tempting. The instrumental is bewitching, seriously addictive, and given the clarity which the vocals are not across the album, becomes a lusty seduction on ears and the passions.
The album is completed by firstly the hellacious tempest of Recurring Face, a hardcore spawned furnace of vocal and sonic spite infused with cold post punk ingenuity. At its conclusion it is impossible not to draw a deep breath in recovery before the closing Basque Knife consumes ears with its psychotic and predacious, but controlled swamp of sound and enterprise. It is a fine end to a great release if not living up to the previous peaks on the album though to be fair the strength of all songs seems to grow with every single dive into their corrosive beauty, this no exception.
From Safer Place is a treat of primal and instinctive noise delivered with a similar inbred passion and animosity. It tests, stretches, and excites in equal measure and makes for a very easy recommendation.
From Safer Place is available now via Critical Heights @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/from-safer-place/id943965796
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