Swear I'm not Paul: Album Review: Fight Like Apes - And The Mystery of the Golden Medallion

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Album Review: Fight Like Apes - And The Mystery of the Golden Medallion

Fight Like Apes - And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion album cover art

Fight Like Apes – And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion

Every now and then someone comes along with the nugget “guitar bands are dead”. It’s probably best known as an infamous quote about the Beatles. I don’t think guitar bands will ever die out. Just like the way vinyl will stay around for a long time due to that warmth it gives. But if guitar bands did die out, then we shouldn’t worry. There are bands such as this, which don’t need guitar. They’ve got enough bells and whistles already.

And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion is Fight Like Apes’ full album debut. They already have received tonnes of hype for their first two EPs; hype which was very much well deserved. The hype machine has turned up again for this record. And rightly so: It’s fantastic. A lot of Irish acts are lauded just because of our innate patriotism: “burn everything British but the coal”. There are acts like the Delorentos and the Blizzards where it’s a case of the passport being more important than the music. However, with acts like Messiah J & the Expert and Fight Like Apes, there’s much more music than passport.

This album should be massive. It’s produced by the guy who produced Death cab for Cutie, and thanks to The OC, they’re massive. If there was a just world, Fight Like Apes would be appearing on bigger shows than The Cafe (granted that’s one of the better shows on RTE). They just need Stereogum or someone to pick up one of their songs, and then they’d be set. Watch the foreign plaudits roll in. Maybe next year’s Mercury Music Prize would do the same job...

It’d be hard to do a full track-by-track review of this record, as I don’t think even the English language has enough superlatives. ‘Something Global’ resonates with the line “give me my hook”, but I don’t think they need to ask, because there are hooks buried underneath hooks on this album. ‘Jake Summers’ has been reimagined for the album proper (given a more straight-forward sound than the EP version), but still retains the fantastic verse: “you’re like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but without the taste / Hey you, get some grace, you know you’re Driving Miss Daisy all over the place.”

Fight Like Apes aren’t afraid to name drop. Simple Kid, Gladstone, Little Beau Peep, Swear I’m Not Paul. Wait, scratch that last one. Maybe on the next record. They’re not afraid to f’ and blind’ either, but this is a PG blog, so maybe come back and visit after the watershed. There are wonderful lyrics sprinkled throughout the album: “I would cut you with glass / If you hadn’t got such a pretty ass“; “Mary had a little lamb / And it got fired...Humpty Dumpty had a bad fall / And he got fired...You’re so fired.” “You’re so informed / Yet you talk just like a lout / You say Yo La Tengo like you’re selling perfume / Like a brand new scent for modern man invented by cartoons”.

Even the songs that aren’t brilliant are still better than most anything on other albums. ‘Battlestations’ is among the weaker tracks here, but it’s still probably one of the best 200 songs of the year. Cut out the screaming, and it could’ve cracked the top 50. ‘Do You Karate?’ on the other hand, is probably one of the top 5 songs of the year. Remind me of this in December, when I go to make my list. Although with the regular rotation this is getting on my iPod, I doubt I’ll forget this song. Ever.

Truly one of the best albums of the year. Definitely the best Irish album of the year. Probably one of the best Irish albums ever. Yes, it is that good. Don’t tell me you haven’t bought it yet. Tut, tut, tut.


red said...

i'm really looking forward to hearing this, but do you really think it's better than the Jimmy Cake 'Spectre & Crown'?

Ronan said...

I actually have yet to hear that record. Must get it from somewhere. Once I've listened, I'll let you know.

For me, Mic Christopher's Skylarkin will take a lot of beating as the best Irish album ever.