I was worried opening the packet that contained this CD that it could have been some kind of terrible arty joke. The artwork on the front, of the Pineapple Goddess, Halakahhika Likka and her human headed dog helpers looked like a tattoo from a merchant sailor who had quaffed too much south sea rum. The press release claimed it was “the sound of easy listening ravaged by punks”. It set the alarm bells off. I feared an onslaught of gruff shouting over Johnny Mathis‘ musical cast offs. A musical marriage made in gaudy seminar hell.
Yes, Flipron sound out of time, warped and alien in this current musical climate. They recall a time when indie music was a broad church that encompassed more than skinny boys with loud guitars. They are otherworldly and wonderful for it. The sound is based around Joe Atkinson’s organ playing – elastic, oddball and energized.
Fancy Blues and Rustique Novelties is 39 minutes of bathos, waltza rhythms and vaudeville fairground melodies. The London based four piece have drunk deep from the muddy waters of the River Thames. There must be something in the water that addles the brain and produces eccentric songwriting. Flipron plough a similar furrow to The Kinks, Madness, The Pogues and Ian Dury. Music hall, kitchen sink drama and urban anomie.
Jesse Budd’s vocals are studied and stained with imperfections. Part Marc Almond and part Speaker’s Corner revivalist. The wheezy organ, surf guitars and cabaret dynamics on initial listens seem to cover the songs in a cloying and wacky veneer. Once I’d listened a few times. the surface started to crack revealing the morbid humour, insight and a tender melancholy that anchors the songs. Themes of death and old age stalk the songs but the lyrics are clever and astute, never plunging into mawkishness.
Rusty Casino’s Casino Rustic is an accordion driven sea shanty, Big Baboon a self-lacerating tale of the perils of drinking. Looking for an angel in the gutter and transforming yourself into a big baboon instead. A gentle melody teased out on a glockenspiel eases the song through the mother of all hangovers.
Skeletons On Holiday sounds like Madness produced by Joe Meek, an instrumental pickled in Bank Holiday seaside revelry. Torch song piano and a descending echo heavy chords provide suitable backing to Curtains, a lamentation for springtime and the end of winter.
The Vicious Car And Love Poem sits at the centre of the album. It’s a tale of a murderous car and its repentant driver who finds love, but fears the return of the car. If Nick Cave had been raised on the streets of north London and read James Herbert instead of the Bible, he may have conceived something similar on Murder Ballads. It’s slightly surreal, allegorical and a mini-masterpiece
It’s a diverting, interesting and wonderful musical world that Flipron have birthed. Take your seat at the theatre at the end of the pier, mind the broken springs in the seats, stir your cocktail and immerse yourself into the world of Flipron.