Album Review: Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner

By on Tuesday, 26th April 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

I am always troubled when “alt-rock” is used to describe a band. I mean, what exactly is the difference between “rock” and “alt-rock”, is “alt-rock” when “traditional” rock goes mental? If yes, I suppose “alt-rock” works as a label for synth-based Fight Like Apes from Dublin. In 2009 I heard their songs ‘Tie Me Up with Jackets’, with singer MayKay’s sing/talky voice, its bleepy blips and anarchic, shouted chorus. Their second album ‘The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner’ was released in Ireland in 2010 but finally getting its release this week in the UK.

‘Come On, Let’s Talk About Your Feelings’ sounds vaguely hippie and you might worry that Fight Like Apes have gone chill. No chance of that. Humourous lyrics, instrumentation that beats you up and computer-y bleeps are still part of this band’s sound, thankfully. ‘Jenny Kelly’, the first single from the album that is currently getting radio airplay, is a great example of MayKay’s sweet voice that can morph into a screamy, energetic one without a second glance. (Watch a stripped down version of this song below.)

Screaming doesn’t really work for me unless there are good lyrics involved, this band always manages to come up with words that are memorable. ‘Pull Off Your Arms and Let’s Play in Your Blood’, the title alone applauded by Carl Barat recently on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable, has a sultry background groove with sexy vocals. Both this and ‘Hoo Ha Henry’ start with funny spoken word samples, but the latter lays into you; once the song is over you feel like you’ve been in a fight.

After that onslaught, gently orchestrated ‘Kathmandu (Face It, You’re Caviar, I’m Hotdogs)’, while not soft at all, is a welcomed, slower tempo number. I thought the meaning of the song was clear by the title but now I’m not so sure. In a way, it’s kind of disappointing that the next song, ‘Thank God You Weren’t Thirsty (Lightbulb)’, is fab in its calm, new-wavey direction until it goes off in the normal Fight Like Apes mental direction two-thirds of the way in (MayKay absolutely screaming her head off), because it would have been fine, erm, a little smoother.

If I had to guess which songs would do the best during festival season, my vote is for ‘Poached Eggs’. (I mean, really, you can imagine pissed punters shouting “just get laid!” back at the band in the middle of Worthy Farm, can’t you?) And indeed, the sexual innuendo (the mention of hookers in ‘Z + H5 Together at Last’, the title of ‘Ice Cream Apple Fuck’) is in your face.

The main problem I see with this album is that the bleeps and random added sounds are too ubiquitous and have the potential to annoy rock traditionalists. (See ‘Captain A-Bomb’, ‘Waking Up with Robocop’.) Oh, and MayKay’s vocals can grate if not melodic (‘Indie Monster’ gives me a headache). Fight Like Apes is, shall we say, an acquired taste. And quite polarising. Just like caviar and hot dogs.

7/10

‘The Body of Chris and Legs of Tina Turner’, the second album from Fight Like Apes, is available now on Model Citizen.

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