Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion

Fight Like Apes

Model Citizen Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


Moving like some kind of Goliath on the Irish music scene, I’d heard word of Fight Like Apes long before I’d heard the music. It’s not often that a band lives up to the hype that is thrust upon them, but in the case of Fight Like Apes, they surpass all expectations.

Arguably we have enough “era-defining” indie-bands to outlast Pete Doherty’s heroin habit. We’re swimming in this new rehashed brand of ‘80s synth pop music. There’s a plethora of MGMTs and CSSs wielding their synth-indie (syndie, if you will), and while no one is complaining, do we really need another? Why bother with Fight Like Apes?

Well, simply put: because they’re better.

The Dublin-based foursome released their debut album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Gold Medallion in Ireland earlier this September. Recorded in Seattle with producer John Goodmanson (who has worked with Death Cab For Cutie, Blood Brothers, and Bikini Kill to namedrop but a few), the album features re-recordings of classic FLApes songs from previous EPs. Still driven by hyper-dynamic keyboard riffs and vocals reminiscent of Patti Smith and Karen O having a catfight courtesy of charismatic lead singer MayKay, Fight Like Apes’ inimitable sound remains unaltered. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Like a fifth member of the band, sound bites from classic films such as The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, Perversion For Profit, and Revolt Of The Zombies are sewn into tracks reminding us of the bleak pre-James Earl Jones world of narration dominated by universally voiced actors. The album is infused with kitschy sub-culture references, some that will hit you nostalgically and some that undoubtedly sail straight overhead.

Lyrically Gold Medallion is obscure, satirical, and dripping in sarcasm. The word “quirky” wouldn’t really do it justice. The blackly comedic “I’m Beginning To Think That You Prefer Beverly Hills 90210 To Me,” which deals with firing a band member, is so cruel and in your face you can’t help but laugh as we’re thrown a chorus of “You’re fired” mixed with “Suplex, suplex, suplex backbreaker” with the song ultimately ending in a string of slightly modified nursery rhymes. Rejection and ridicule at its finest.

“You’re like Kentucky Fried Chicken but without the taste / Hey, you, get some grace / You know you’re driving Ms. Daisy all over the place,” sings MayKay in the album’s second track “Jake Summers” (California Dreams anyone?) before breaking into a breath-stealing chorus harmonized with keyboardist Pockets’ growling vocals. You wouldn’t even have to see the band live to have evidence of the band’s dynamic -- everything here is delivered in full measure.

Standout tracks on the album include “Tie Me Up With Jackets” (a previously unreleased song), frenzied “Do You Karate?” and “Recyclable Ass,” whose opening line, “I’d love my ex-boyfriends to stop getting with new girlfriends / And stay single for ever / Just in case I change my mind” always makes gets a smile from me. Spiteful, but honest.

Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion, for a debut, is nothing short astonishing. It’s heated and hyper, littered with derailed trains of lyrical thought and altogether musically brilliant. Easily the best album I’ve heard this year.

Rating: A

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© 2008 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Model Citizen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.