After causing some well-deserved buzz with their single releases, alternative quintet FLING are now soon to release their first long player, Fling or Die. The Bradford outfit self-describes as ‘wonky pop’, but their sound is pleasantly hard to pinpoint, drawing from psychedelic rock, glam, and a hint of blues, and their aesthetic is an updated call-back to the golden era of Art Rock in the early ’70s. The band initially bonded over their mutual love of T. Rex and David Bowie, and their influence is certainly to be found in the album; but there are many more suggestions to be discovered in there, from Lou Reed to the Rolling Stones, with a hint of early Gorillaz and even Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Made up of eleven tracks, the album is a tight package with a slightly melancholy, slightly ironic mood. A soft, woozy sound counterbalanced by cutting vocals and a clever use of distortion holds it all together, and themes of love, alienation, and the difficulty of grappling with the contemporary world emerge in most of the tracks. ‘Welcome To The City‘ opens the album with a delightfully bold homage to David Bowie, nodding to Starman in both lyrics and sound. The song sets the mood for an album whose sound is often slightly otherworldly: “I’m an alien living in your home,” recite the lyrics, almost as a statement of intent.
FLING know their way around a good ballad, including the fact that the secret to it is to keep it not entirely serious. Tracks like ‘Annie‘ and ‘Je T’aime‘ are good plays on this, with a soft sound that makes for an easy listen and ever so slightly disillusioned lyrics; unexpected distortions add an element of interest and depth to a type of song that would otherwise be at risk of becoming repetitive.
Some quirkier, bolder numbers are also to be found in Fling or Die. ‘Banjo Billy‘ is a little weird divertissement that relishes its own sound and has fun with it, and ‘Revolution‘ features some bold keyboards and a strongly psychedelic intro. ‘Girl‘ brings the listener straight back to the late ’60s; the influence of the Rolling Stones is felt strongly in this one. Taking on board so many different ideas and suggestions brings an engaging variety to the album, held together by a slightly woozy, trademark atmosphere.
The album closes on a high with ‘Black and White Fibbers,’ a personal favourite. It is the roughest track of the lot and in many ways the boldest, with a dirtier guitar sound and a chaotic ending. It is apt that this is the last track in the album, as it leaves the listener almost with a promise: if this is what FLING are capable of, there’s definitely good reason to look forward to more of it.
All in all, Fling or Die is coherent, intriguing, has fun with its own sound, and is a good refreshing take on a number of strong influences. It could have benefited from being braver in some points, detaching itself more from the ballad form and indulging more in its flirts with glam and psychedelic rock, but it is nevertheless a strong debut, with a distinct voice and a lot of potential.
The debut album ‘Fling or Die’ will be released on February 22nd via Dance to the Radio – various bundles and formats can be pre-ordered here.
Tour dates have been announced in support of the album:
Fri 22nd Feb – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Sat 2nd March – Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough
Wed 13th March – Oslo Hackney, London
Wed 1st May – The Polar Bear, Hull
Thurs 2nd May – Night People, Manchester
Fri 3rd May – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
Photo Credit: Danny Payne