Fight Like Apes don’t do complexity. They do heart-on-sleeve, insouciant noise. They do in-your-face, bratty punk with titles like Ice Cream Apple Fuck, and sex-loaded lyrics about making cheese toasties. They do cascades of sludgey synth, dreamy pop refrains that swerve into expletive-laden vitriol, twisted B-movie samples that crescendo into aneurysm-inducing outros. But they don’t do complexity.
All of which is fantastic for album number one, where a bucketful of attitude is about all you need. As it was, 2009’s Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion was a glorious slab of the band’s self-styled “karate rock” (with a title inspired by an episode of The A-Team where Mr T coaches a gymnastics team, if you must know). And there was easily enough raw energy in their hedonistic chaos to carry off those initial 12 tracks. But to do it again? If ever there was to be a second album hump, there was always the feeling it would be here.
But if the fans have been looking forwards to The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner with a weary trepidation, no one told Fight Like Apes. There’s a slower burn in places, not least on Thirsty and Katmandu, where the production – led by Andy Gill, who sat behind Young Knives‘ last effort – moves closer to Sky Larkin solidity over the typical Fight Like Apes messiness. But Jenny Kelly, and Waking Up With Robocop, suggest they still know their way around a combustible chorus – their knack for combining punch and playfulness neatly showcased in the counterpoint between the gritted-teeth snarl of Jamie ‘Pockets’ Fox and the shrieking, bubblegum-Banshee wail of Mary-Kate ‘Maykay’ Geraghty.
There’s still a feel that The Body of Christ… is leaning towards the more polished-punk vein of Los Campesinos! or Art Brut, but Poached Eggs, a frenzied bed of fuzz and bass overlaid with fist-punching, chanted outro, is uniquely a Fight Like Apes creation. And the hilarious cartoon violence of Maykay’s frequent lyrical tirades still punctuates the album in a way their peers wouldn’t dare try – conker attacks and genital mutilation litter the tracks, while their mantra could be summed up in the genius bridge of Pull Off Your Arms And Let’s Play In Your Blood: “My well-read friend informed me that I was a cunt/ Well, it’s her own cunting problem/ It’s not my fucking problem I’m dumb.” Beautiful.
It won’t be a surprise with such an approach that The Body of Christ… has its weaker moments, but it almost seems to miss the point to care. Fight Like Apes delight in their own cackhanded methods, and the odd sloppy sample or laughable lyric are merely grist to their deliberately anarchic mill. There is a slowing down here, and at times they don’t quite carry off the attitude that drives them, but there’s no second album hump – just another slice of hook-laden pop-punk that you’ll either love or hate. But frankly, take it or leave it – Fight Like Apes won’t bloody care.