"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.
The band began as an outlet for Weiss’ art-school sonic experiments, and though what she and her bandmates trade in these days is infectious melodies and big choruses, dig in deep with FOM and you start to notice she hasn’t left those experimental beginnings behind. ‘Green Sea’ takes the sort of melancholy, chiming guitars and knockout harmonies you’d find on an early REM cut and drowns them in gritty Phil Elverum production. ‘Born’ showcases their more energetic side, clattering through three minutes of driving bass and Sofia Coppola soundtrack noises. But it is ‘Seer’ that excites most, slowing down their dreamy brand of indie to a simmer. “Do you know what to do when you’re on your own?” repeats Weiss as a wall of noise builds around her, with shades of Esben And The Witch.
‘Early Fragments’ is exactly that – a bit fragmented, given that none of the songs were written to sit alongside each other. But as ‘Seer’ suggests, there could be quite a future for Fear Of Men, and this release could start it all.