Truly Madly Anxious
Following on from summer’s ‘Peppermint’ release (see Wavegirl’s previous review), London’s alternative rock outfit Flirting return with a lengthier outing. New EP This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me offers up a more generous number of the band’s ‘anxiety pop’ tunes.
There’s a breezy energy to a lot of Flirting’s indie rock output. They throw a nod to shoegaze here and there, but there’s always a strong desire to keep the vocal elements more forward in the mix. Space is also important, something which is utilised to good effect on opener ‘Yum’. Here, sparse guitar notes prep the ground for a busy composition that rolls between gauzy dreampop and distorted guitar work.
The EP version of ‘Peppermint’ is a longer affair than the original edit release. Here, a spoken intro crafts an anecdote that lends a sense of context to the song as a whole. The tight arrangements remain in place and the frenetic guitars drop in and out as necessary. As our earlier review commented, ‘Peppermint’ has a vulnerability in the lyrics that’s key to Flirting’s approach to song-writing.
The EP takes a break at this point with the brief ‘Interlude’, essentially a spoken word piece by guest Hattie Long over a strange dream-like electronic fugue. There’s a disconcerting aspect to this segment, but also an engaging element to the words.
Elsewhere, ‘Lilac’ kicks off with a shimmering crystal-like melody augmented by spacey guitars. Poppy Waring’s twilight vocals have a mesmerising quality (“It’s 3am but won’t you pick up the phone/and tell me it’s all in my mind”) over a track that has a fragile beauty to it.
The EP closes with the odd machine-like rhythms of ‘In The Dark’. Waring’s evocative stream of consciousness lyrics waft in and out of textured guitars and the end result is a ghostly reverie. It’s a strange, fractured composition that illustrates how versatile Flirting are when it comes to song composition.
This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me offers a refreshing change for anyone worried that a lot of indie rock fare has been subsumed by blokey guitar bands. There’s nods here to that rich pre-BritPop period when the independent music scene was erupting with mercurial talent (a time when the likes of Lush, Pale Saints and Slowdive were in their imperial phase).
There’s a sense of anxiety threaded across the surface of our culture in the current climate, something that Flirting seem to reflect (albeit on a deeper, personal level). This is engaging song-writing that touches the heart and suggests that Flirting have a bright, if anxious, future.
This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me is out now.