Fragile Creatures seem fully evolved and adaptable to any dangerous environment on their debut LP, …And Other Wild Things, which is versatile and slick, and often bares its fangs.
The Brighton band released their album on 17th March on local Brighton label Brightonsfinest after a headline show in February at The Dome no less. For such a recently formed band they sound well practised and tight, to the point of even becoming one of those rare beasts: a commercially viable proper guitar band. The first couple of tracks on the record are top radio fodder; polished up guitar made all gleamy thanks to top notch production with a small measure of synthesisers just for good luck.
But it’s track three, The Chemicals that starts hinting to me that these lads are not just one of those indie bands. They come in on some cheeky ska-influenced chords, with a spooky keyboard movement that is mirrored by dextrous lead guitar work. This is top stuff; a band not afraid to widen their repertoire, to wink at other crowds aside from the muso alt-rock crowd. This tune also sees a departure from the vocal style Adam Kidd has delivered thus far; he’s pushing his coy lullaby tones into more abrasive territory to great effect.
What A Mess We’re In comes fourthly and this feels like a return to more familiar territory for the band; a four to the floor beat that is accented brilliantly in the chorus refrain of “Can’t/You/See…What a mess we’re in.” It’s so tidy that I wouldn’t be surprised if they got calls from musical theatre producers begging for similarly bombastic stage numbers.
The band put their fingers to their lips for track six Stowaways. It’s interestingly subdued, the intro edging into the creepy, nocturnal kinda places. The guitar work here is impressive; the transition from chilling to beautiful is seamless and it’s down to the slight accenting of the guitar line that this lift happens. And here also is where we get the first raw guitar solo of the album; precious few notes are hit, but as we have learnt from Noel Gallagher’s soloing style in the nineties, less is most definitely more.
I hope I’m communicating here how you really get a feeling of variety from this LP; like I’m sure if you were to be invited to dinner with Fragile Creatures they’d be having tapas – “So we can try a little bit of everything, ya know?” A particular flavour that I’m enjoying is Into The Night, which begins innocuously enough; it’s a boppy number featuring keyboard stuff that isn’t all that far from Calvin Harris in the musical spectrum. Sound naff? Well it’s not because the Creatures (yeah I’m calling them that now) sling in some of that bitey guitar stuff that I’m coming to realise is their trademark, so as to just mucky the dance-floor a fraction. And anything that gets indie kids dancing has my seal of approval.
Now, timely enough, comes You Don’t Get It, which definitely points to a love of them recently reformed indie darls, The Coral. A jeery, mischievous lick leads us into a track led by low frequency bounce from the bassman, that is rounded off by a top-end-tickling chorus that sees Adam accompanied in his vocal duties. This is a celebratory track, one of those straight up rock ‘n’ roll ones that twists and spins till you don’t know where you are; he goes a bit Brett Anderson on us here, affecting the femme style while declaring “I gave my heart and soul, For love of rock ‘n’ roll” over a spectacular middle eight before we’re treated once more to the tang of that riff.
After the detour down the dark alleyway that Body In The Boot suggests – all low key keyboard and bottom-of-the-spine guitar work – the band go pop again with a straight up bar-room romp in the way of One Bit At A Time. This one has a bang-on walking bassline that anchors down the vocal harmonies and wandering accents of guitar. It’s so late-night it makes me wanna stop writing this and neck a whisky; I would not be shocked at all if I heard it soundtracking one of those adverts for cider on TV.
The last track, of course, has to be a ballad; if there’s anything these guys know it’s how to do the rock/pop crossover thing, and you know there’s always got to be a slow one for the couples. There’s only the husky tones of the singer and a guitar, with a little organ for effect and I’m so there. Picture this; the night is biting and black, and the door has just snapped shut on your coat tail much to your chagrin, but your frown is melted down as you take in the scene of a pub, a coal fire twinkling in the amber reflections of pint glasses. That’s where I am now, in my head, so…
C’mon kids, get them while they’re hot; copies of …And Other Wild Things are available now. Online via the band’s Soundcloud, or even –gasp- in physical, proper black plastic edition that you can really touch. The digital album features two bonus tracks that I haven’t mentioned here because, well, it’s nice to have surprises innit?
By Adam Morrison