No, I’d forgotten too – but there it was, plain as day, when The Bends shuffled onto my iPod (is using one considered retro yet?). The slick, wide, guitar sound is there. A four-square rock structures to all the songs. The lyrics are tangible, comprehensible, forward. It’s classic rock, all right.
The Bends offers no hint of the genre-busting right turn they would take over the course of their next three albums. The Bends‘ big, beautiful rock could just as easily be an album by a band who were about to morph into U2.
With hindsight, it’s possible to see The Bends as an album of skewed and troubled songs played by a talented rock covers group. The band’s sound is a rich, glossy chocolate that gloops over the songs; and yet – shards still prick through. In the end, Radiohead learnt to love the shards alone.
And here is the inherent beauty of any new band: potential. They might – might – surprise everyone, themselves included. Train all eyes, then, on Fists, a Nottingham band that specialise in deceit.
Fists are happy to pull the wool over your eyes in two ways: with their name, which tricks you into thinking they’re a Doom Metal band, and secondly, with their sound itself, fooling the listener into thinking that they are another twee-rock band.
You too will feel a sense of shame when you realise that they are a much better band than that. Weekend is slow, then fast, then heartfelt, then manic. Weekend grows organically, caressing you as it twists its spindly, slender frame around your accepting body until the melody is so tightly coiled around you, submission is the only option left.
Fists remind me a lot of the wonderful, defunct, Royal We, and I can think of no higher praise. Royal We were a band who had potential, produced one great mini-album, and then vanished. It would be a crime – a crime – if the same happened to Fists. Tough, fragile, crazed, and excellent.