The first thing that enters my head on listening to Fear of Men’s Early Fragments, apart from the realization that I’m lost in some sort of dream world, is just how listenable they are. Throughout, Jessica Weiss’ trademark mermaid-vocal washes wistfully over Dan Falvey’s interesting indie-pop guitar to create a blissful and hazy atmosphere. It’s the type of perfect coupling that’s rarely heard outside of The Smiths’ records.
As an easy introduction to the band’s work to date, Early Fragments serves its purpose perfectly. It spans their singles and B-sides from 2011 to date, arranged in reverse chronological order.
"Seer", the latest single, features the echoing, ethereal-pop sound that has become so entwined with the band’s essence. The touching lyric ‘I can help you when you’re down and out’ and gentle woodwind section give the song a sensitive charm despite the dramatic marching drums and sinister words ‘You make no sense at all/With my hands around your neck’. The end result is something chilling, understated and poppy all in one. Is this a taste of things to come on their debut album, which is around the corner? I hope so.
As it’s no secret that the overtly feminist Brighton quartet are into Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath, it’s unsurprising that a lot of their lyrics touch upon melancholy and friction, such as the opening line to the next track "Mosaic", ‘I’m young, and I’m selfish, and I’m living with regret’.
The rest of the tracks are "Your Side", "Green Sea", "Born", "Doldrums", their debut single "Ritual Confession" and finally "Spirit House". Each one is another example of the dreamy and catchy shoegaze Fear of Men have turned into their own.
As the name suggests, the tracks on Early Fragments are disjointed in terms of their release date and the band’s maturity. But this is to their credit, as the juxtapositioning only adds to the unpolished, lo-fi nature of their material.