Artist: Fear Of Men
Record Label: Kanine Records
On the surface, ‘Loom’, the debut LP by Brighton trio Fear of Men, is a delicate and ornate album that swirls to the sound of lead vocalist/guitarist, Jessica Weiss’ childlike voice whilst the rich textures and nods to orchestral flourishes gives the band’s primary effort a stirring ambience. Although, like any great pop music, peak behind the curtain and you’ll unearth odes that according the band explore “crippling disconnection, boredom and sexual dread”. Lyrically, there are pictures painted by Weiss’ words that jar against the singer’s innocent tones; this contrast is maintained by the rousing instrumentation reeled out by Daniel Falvey on guitar and Michael Miles on drums and keys. It’s when the latter initiates’ percussion gun drumlicks on ‘Tephra’, that you get the impression underneath Fear of Men’s niceties lurks an awkward, suppressed darkness.
‘Loom’ is a record of stifled urgency, as if witnessing the album through a glass ceiling, there’s an apprehension that Fear of Men portray that makes you want to edge closer into the band’s inner circle. Confessional wordplay pops up to make a striking statement just when you wouldn’t expect, ‘Seer’ is the prime example of the Brighton three piece marrying a pleasant aural calm with something more macabre. Weiss throws up the juxtaposed lyrics of “I can help you when you’re down and out” firstly, as if extending a charitable olive branch, swiftly followed by “you make no sense at all with my hands around your neck”, the lyrical equivalent of throttling this unnamed soul with said branch. ‘Luna’ again has Weiss sweetly declaring “I tried my best to destroy you” – there’s the impression that if ‘Loom’ was a person it would be smiling on the outside but falling apart on the inside or a cheerful, personable individual by day and a knife wielding psycho by night.
Melancholy and bi-polar shifts in mood work as an undercurrent throughout ‘Loom’; ‘Green Sea’ commences to the sound of tense, taught strings being strummed, wrapping themselves around Weiss’ wistful voice which swells into sumptuous yet understated harmonies, all these factors invoke a relaxing but uneasy silhouette that’s cast across Fear of Men’s work. ‘Vitrine’ is the epitome of where ‘Loom’ has been spawned from “tell me that you’re perfect still on the surface/but it’s happening underneath/perfect still on the surface/tell me you need me/say that you need me/ideal daydreams show me what I’ve lost” This lyrical baring of the soul is what makes the seasider’s debut such an emotive, enthralling listen.
‘Loom’ triumphs in being vulnerable but with an air of unsettling malice attributing to Fear of Men producing a brave album that is embellished with untold depth and human fragility.