Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion (Model Citizen)
Fight Like Apes manage to convey almost universal simplicity in a framework that could supply nothing but that. Punk rock riffs (but certainly not the ideals, thankfully for them), childish humour and structural adherence to templates that accentuate the clarity of their expression make their debut record a generally focused triumph. This simplicity remains throughout in their chants, their simple electro arrangements and the sheer presence of the songs. Complexity might be a feted asset to many of the band’s contemporaries, but Fight Like Apes clearly don’t feel this to be a part of their action plan. No, they prefer wrestling moves, infidelity and Beverly Hills 90210. Fine.
Like the debut of the similarly hyperactive youths Rolo Tomassi, the female vocals here are fine, but stylised whereby they infringe on the instrumental assets the human voice naturally has. Here, the vocals are no different in essence to those on the last Girls Aloud record, save for the shrieks. Stylish and tuneful, accessible and balanced well with the other instruments, but they could be so much more interesting. This is not to try and rid Fight Like Apes of any pop sensibility, because that’s one of the most commendable things about them, but if the voice is treated as a true sonic instrument rather than amplified, tuneful talking, the results can be thrilling. See Melt-Banana for details. Their pop is intact but accentuated and redefined by the terrifying vocal. Here, Digifucker and Lend Me Your Face represent the most satisfying approximation of this, the final moments of both elevating the band completely.
Among their contemporaries in the marketplace are many 80s-referencing bands that, ‘cos they’re so damn WACKY, just can’t resist throwing in references to The Breakfast Club and Jaffa Cakes, and Fight Like Apes don’t escape this (the Grave Architecture-inspired Jake Summers takes its cue from the teen comedy California Dreams). What works in their favour and nullifies this unfunny backward-step to a large degree is the ferocity, the fun and abandon that pervades the whole album. It’s by no means a new kind of pleasure, but the simple act of chanting “WOO!” repeatedly during Recyclable Ass can’t be underestimated, as well as the simple act of chanting “OOOHHH GOOOOD!” at the zenith of Lumpy Dough. Pleasures so simple, in fact, that when they are absent on the crawling, comparatively uninteresting final track Snore Bore Whore, they are missed terribly.
Luckily, the rest is quite full of goodness. It’s not earth-shaking goodness, more a functional, comfortingly silly goodness, but goodness nonetheless. Time spent discovering the potential of their own noise would certainly not be a waste.
This record with a very long title comes out on January 26th on Model Citizen records. More info here.