Fear of Men - Loom

by Hiro Master Rating:7.5 Release Date:2014-04-21

Anyone dipping into Loom, the debut album by Brighton's Fear of Men, will be struck by a whiff of nostalgia. The jangly guitars throughout owe a real debt to Johnny Marr while the sweet vocals of Jessica Weiss' voice is not a million miles away from Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays. Rolling Stone in 1990 described the Sundays debut as "an alluring slice of lighter-than-air guitar pop, a collection of uncommonly good songs graced by... wondrous singing". Remarkably this judgement stands perfectly for Loom.

It is a genuinely lovely and dreamy album of pristine pop songs with a sneaky art-rock foundation. The band are a clever lot and like to quote Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. Musically, they have learned their trade well and in particular guitarist Daniel Falvey seems like a bit of a star. Check out the lovely 'Waterfall' (not a Stone Roses Cover), with Weiss' bittersweet vocal and the chiming backdrop echoing the 80s band The Flatmates.

For one moment this reviwer thought the single 'Green Sea' was about to break into 'Outdoor Miner' by Wire but as it turns out it's a sublime piece of pop music deserving repeated plays. 'America' starts off sounding like a folk song and does show the inherent strength of the songwriting in the band with a slowish ballad gently unfurling over a wistful three minutes.

With songs like the standout 'Descent', the band are locked down for future success; its chiming chords and hooks are an intoxicating mix and this one could trouble charts if some enlightened radio DJ shows some impeccable taste. Finally on 'Inside', the album's longest track at over six minutes, the band breathe out and produce a song of rare quality with just the smallest echo of Beach House - ditto the previous single 'Seer'.

Fear of Man are clearly grounded in an late 1980s indie ethic and what's wrong with that? It was a period which produced some great music outside the mainstream and is a rich vein to mine. The further good news is that Fear of Men don't just reference this music, they build on it with a delicious set of songs. Loom is by no means a world-beating or particularly original album yet it is very enjoyable, full of melody, uplifting hooks and imbued with the faintest hint of mystery.

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