Æ: Aglet Eaters

Flies On You – Nothing To Write Home About

Posted in Album, Review by R on December 16, 2012

What's in it

I’ve been putting off writing about Flies On You for ages now, much to Doug’s discontent. I can give you the standard ‘life stuff’ reason blaming work and study and suchlike for limiting time I can devote to AE (sorry, AE, I still love you, you’re my baby, mwah). Or I can give you the real reason – I’m sort of scared.

(But wait a minute – who’s Doug?)

We’ll get to that.

We have another //orangenoise situation on our hands. Once again, I have to walk the fine line between cutting edge insider scoop and TMI.

From the start Flies on You have been labelled post-punk. I can’t recall whether this was their own doing (‘DIY post-punk’ proclaims their bio) or something imposed on them by an over-eager fan, but where that idea came from remains a mystery. In response to your question, Doug (Aikman) is the chap to whom I owe most of my coolth (except for the shoegaze bit – that one’s me and Richard Ashcroft). He’s the one who saved me from the classic rock abyss for which I am eternally grateful. He gave me my first tastes of My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized, Killing Joke, Big Black, Sonic Youth, Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes, Luke Haines and the Auteurs, and, thankfully, never shared a Radiohead song with me throughout (ILU, Doug). Despite this behemoth of musical expertise living in his brain, how he and Andrew (Watkins) could so grossly mislabel their own band is inexplicable. They’re only post-punk because they were once punk, I proudly declared one day. Then I declared it a few more times in the coming days because I was that proud of the line. D offered to make it the band’s byline in an attempt to get me to stop repeating it, but that idea never took off, possibly because last.fm tags are set in stone.

You see, Doug used to be in a punk band of his own back when post-punk was just winding up. When zines, not blogs, kept you cool. Nerve Rack were post-punk punk, which means they, like Flies on You, weren’t very post-punk at all. So if they aren’t what they say they are, what are they?

Indie?
What does that even mean? No.
Alternative?
Ew. No.
Shoegaze?
There are pockets, but not really. (maybe with some convincing?)
Experimental?
Nice try! No.
Dubstep?
Maybe the next album, right now – no.
Reggae/Dub?
Yea…. we’re not getting anywhere.

We’ve no choice but to rely on our own observations. Egad, I can’t remember the last time my dependence on genre pigeonholes allowed me to do that.

There’s a (predictable) preference, on Nothing To Write Home About, for talking over singing. There’s also a lyrical tendency to narrate rather than emote. The words to ‘Spain’, admirably accomplish both by following up a personal narrative with the emotionally-aware chorus ‘you fucking cow’. But that’s where the sentimentality ends. Don’t try to pass off ‘You’re Shite’ as emotive, when it is simply fact. None of the tracks on this album really look you in the eye. They don’t look at you at all. Each one appears to be talking to someone else. These aren’t empathetic songs, they’re reality (real life doesn’t know you exist).

I wish I could label them ‘punk’ and be done with it, but alas – they’re far from that simple. Listen to ‘Slashing it Down’, f’rinstance. Is that a hint of – it couldn’t be – REM? The harmonies – they’re straight off Out Of Time. That’s not very punk (post or otherwise) at all.

Listen to ‘Muh​-​m​-​m​-​m​-​m​-​muh’ – the descriptive title does nothing to warn you of the climactic little cannonball within its one and a half minutes.

And no punks in their right mind would, even ironically, ever use the word ‘pop’ in a song title.

And no punks have ever had a song as mellow, as sophisticated, or as long as ‘The last pop song’. Five whole minutes! You spoil us, FoY!

But, if in your cramped life, you find you can’t squeeze in the time to listen to the entirety of Nothing To Write Home About, do me just this one favour. Listen to ‘Yeah, wild I know but, nonetheless’. Pay no attention to the misplaced comma – it means nothing. Or does it?

Flies On You are the “b-side babies” of whom Adam(Ant) wisely spoke. They merely tolerate the anaemic epithet “DIY post-punk” as a descriptor of their oeuvre. Needs must, etc.

Them’s the band’s own words. If you’re listening on bandcamp, play each track from its individual page, just so you can revel in the delicate little stories subheads they’ve provided for each. Ah – how we’ve missed having album liner notes to lose our vision to.

Oi, hang on – I just noticed I’m thanked for ‘a fragment of a lyric’ – what lyric?

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