Pressing play on this Manchester trio’s debut EP, the first thought that comes to mind is that this sounds just like the nineties. All of the nineties. There’s such a smorgasbord of influences on show here in such a small amount of time that for the first few listens just playing ‘spot the reference’ requires a pen and pad. This isn’t meant to seem disparaging though- whilst most revivalists seem content to just sound like their favourite band, Flesh draw from an equal mix of British and American influences, creating a sound that’s much more their own.
Take the opening track ‘W8 4 Me’, which initially sounds like a pastiche of Nirvana’s Bleach; all plodding bass, simple riffs and bursts of feedback, before crescendoing to a blistering guitar solo more at home on a Steve Vai record than anything from Seattle. A similar trick happens on ‘Dead Lonely’, which sounds just like Oasis covering ‘You Could Be Mine’. The effected, snotty vocals also manage to hit a weird middle ground between the UK and US- no matter how much the singer tries to sound like an LA Hardcore kid he can’t shake that twinge of Britpop, and ends up sounding like Damon Albarn trying to do a Johnny Rotten impression that weirdly enough brings the whole thing full circle. Sprinkle in a few Madchester beats here and there for good measure and you’re laughing, it’s as if these guys have cracked some sort of code.
So whilst there is a certain novelty value to be gleaned from listening to a hybrid of Grunge and Britpop and noticing that the two genres are actually much more similar than the endless media coverage and retrospectives would have you believe, really that’s all a sideshow and only tangentially related to the music. Strip away the hyperbole and hoary comparisons to old bands and what you’re left with is a strong, confident debut that does what all good demo’s and EP’s should do- establish a sound, show off your influences and hint at where they could be taken, highlight your strengths (in this case some great guitar playing and a burgeoning songwriting talent) then get the hell out of there before you outstay your welcome and the whole thing is exposed as smoke and mirrors.
Overall then, a strong start from a band with a lot of potential. There’s a nugget of something special tucked away in this EP, and if the band can figure out how to make their influences work for them rather than vice versa then who knows, perhaps their self-appointed label ‘Snot-Pop’ (or should that be #SNOTPOP?) could become the grunge of 2014.
Words by Tom Sanders (@Sanderrrsss).