Good music should entertain you, be memorable after you’ve just heard it for the first time. It’s the Old Grey Whistle Acid Test!!! Great music on the other hand should disturb you, rock your core and enthuse you to share it with anyone else who think should care. Flies, the debut LP by The Battery Farm, falls into the later category. Self-proclaimed gutter punks, from Manchester, a self-deprecation if you will, like Dinosaur Jr being referred to as just an indie rock band. These boys mean business. Having a lockdown caused by a global pandemic, has done nothing to harm the creative process. They have simply been hunkered down and written song after song. They have more songs than bands with twice the amount of albums out! And they’re all bangers from the off. Roy Keane doesn’t even make the squad! It’s a World Cup year, so he’d probably have fucked off home anyway!
This is a concept album, the central theme being decay, which runs through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. Like all good stories it has a beginning, middle and an end. In this case punctuated by 3 tracks around the subject of Flies, part of a spoken word triumvirate by lead singer Ben Corry, who very definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, and most of his other organs too!
Still finding space to include live favourites “Poet Boy”, “A Working Class Lad”, and “I’m A Man”, this isn’t simply a collection of grungy guitar driven singles, backed up with album filler tracks. It’s great to hear a polished “Crude Oil Water”, which now sounds even better than the original version, with pounding early Killing Joke drums, vocally crisper and more brutal, with Dom Corry’s innovative guitar work pulling the song this way and that, like cats in a sack.
However, the strength of this album lies in the newer material, which shows just how they’ve developed. “In The Belly Of The Beast” is a case in point. This is multidimensional, allowing Dom simply to shred the ears of the listener, whilst Ben delivers what I consider to be his best vocal so far. I love the harmonised double tracked vocals on this. It demands to be instantly replayed. They even find time for a come down ballad in “Everything Will Be Alright,” showing Ben to be more than a just a bar room screamer.
“Disdain Gain” wouldn’t sound out of place at next year’s Download Festival. I can already picture Dom, one foot on the monitor, surveying the sight in front of him, a sea of hair and devil horns as far as the eye can see!
This album is going to surprise a lot of people, especially those who might have already them pigeonholed or written off as being Idles/Nirvana wannabes. It’s even going to surprise a few fans, who won’t have heard the new songs yet!
I’m always slightly nervous of reviewing music by people I know. Can you be honest and true in the words you choose, so as not to upset them? Or do you pull no punches and let them have both barrels in the spirit of grounding and constructive criticism? If I called this album good, then I could simply close the laptop, knowing that the world would still keep spinning. But it’s not just “good”, it’s shit, THE shit. The GOOD shit that attracts flies like nonces to school sports day. Brutal, yet beautiful. Erotic but pornographic. The world won’t simply keep spinning after this, unharmed and balanced. No, this will knock it several degrees off its axis, out of kilter and eventually altering the time/space continuum, making days longer. That would be a good thing though, more hours in the day to listen to The Battery Farm. Lads you’ve set the bar high for your debut. I’m already hotly anticipating the second!
FLIES is out Fri 18th November on Rare Vitamin Records. They play a Sold Out show at 33 Oldham Street, Manchester the following night. Catch them at Gorilla on Fri 16th Dec supporting Evil Blizzard.