Melodic, pounding and exciting. Nothing to fear at all
Brighton’s Fear Of Men are more sinister than their breezy Cranberries-pop sound and saintly vocals are letting on. Formed in 2010, a trickle of singles later the quartet stand as an intriguing indie-pop prospect, thanks to the avalanche of subtle touches that lift up their dreamy nocturnes. Spooky coos and oohs flicker on a backdrop of guitarist Daniel Falvey’s ’90s guitar jangles, Proustian lyrics about death and decay sit almost unnoticed amid their juggernaut pop hooks, and there’s even subtle humour: the video for ‘Seer’, the opening track on this story-so-far collection of songs, has a laugh at their buzz-band status by packing off singer Jessica Weiss to a bee sanctuary.
The band began as an outlet for Weiss’ art-school sonic experiments, and though what she and her bandmates trade in these days is infectious melodies and big choruses, dig in deep with FOM and you start to notice she hasn’t left those experimental beginnings behind. ‘Green Sea’ takes the sort of melancholy, chiming guitars and knockout harmonies you’d find on an early REM cut and drowns them in gritty Phil Elverum production. ‘Born’ showcases their more energetic side, clattering through three minutes of driving bass and Sofia Coppola soundtrack noises. But it is ‘Seer’ that excites most, slowing down their dreamy brand of indie to a simmer. “Do you know what to do when you’re on your own?” repeats Weiss as a wall of noise builds around her, with shades of Esben And The Witch.
‘Early Fragments’ is exactly that – a bit fragmented, given that none of the songs were written to sit alongside each other. But as ‘Seer’ suggests, there could be quite a future for Fear Of Men, and this release could start it all.