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.
‘Fight Like Apes by Fight Like Apes is out now on Alcopop! Records.
Words by Gareth O’Malley (@riversidemethod)