Fight Like Apes burst forth with a youthful explosion of noise. The opening track of ‘How Am I Supposed to Kill You if You Have All The Guns?’ is named after a leather jacket-clad character from ‘California Dreams’, after all. Lead single Lend Me Your Face, meanwhile, was as violent in its sonic assault as it was in its lyrical content.
It was anti-love, anti-melody anti-pop. It was like nothing we’d heard before and it was fantastic. But that was in 2007, a long time ago in many ways.
Sadly for both the fans and the band, each step forward in their career since has been a step down from this peak; each subsequent release less interesting than the one that had preceded it. For people hoping that trend could be arrested, the break the band took – it’s been three and a half years since ‘The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner’ was released – could be viewed as a good thing.
It does seem like Fight Like Apes have taken the time to stand back and review exactly what they were doing. They needed to step away from their modus operandi and look at it afresh through new eyes. Unfortunately, the eyes of the four-piece – only MayKay and Pockets remain from the original line-up – are no longer the 21 year old eyes they were circa ‘How Am I Supposed to Kill You…’.
Fight Like Apes are in their late 20s and, as much as they try to hold that back, it comes out in their sound. MayKay croons and laments where once she was the purveyor of uncouth screams. “Playing a lady for today,” she sings on Crouching Bees, though we’re not sure the effects won’t be more long-lasting.
Whether or not the “Hey-aye-ey-aye-ey!” of the chorus is a subtle wink to the dirge that is Galway Girl, it seems endemic of a more mature, civilised Fight Like Apes. The tune is upbeat and enjoyable, but never really offers that punch of songs gone by.
It seems like Fight Like Apes have railed against the aging process in terms of their lyrics. “We’ll make you records with knives and forks/We’re making tunes with spinal cords,” MayKay sings on bwah! . Their melodic tunes, however, betray this aesthetic.
The Hunk and The Fun Palace is the biggest throwback to what they’ve done before. Still, it sounds like a poor man’s Jake Summers. The chorus of “Roll over, play satisfied”, for example, just says nothing of any consequence.
Tyson has a catchy, wordless chorus. “Don’t leave this band, you’ll go insane”, as Pockets chants over the closing chords, mirrors McLusky’s “Our old singer is a sex criminal” from She Will Only Bring You Happiness; a song FLApes recently credited as an important factor in the formation of the band. It does serve as a good outro; a rare glimpse of colour in an EP of greys, but it only comes after 90% of the EP has already elapsed.
This is no hastily cobbled together collection – we’ve waited long enough for it anyway. It seems deliberated over, rehearsed and exacting. The problem is, that’s not what we want from Fight Like Apes.
Fight Like Apes no longer sound like brash, uncivilised louts. There is no immediacy in ‘Whigfield Sextape’, except perhaps the slight smirk its very title elicits. It’s decent electro-pop, but it’s oh-so generic and that’s one thing Fight Likes Apes never were before.