Fear of Men’s Adventures in Dream Pop Wonderland
What do rocky beaches, the Royal Pavilion, the Palace Pier and Alice in Wonderland all have in common with the band Fear of Men? The one similarity between this list of seemingly random things is the origin of them all, and that is that they all come from (and in the case of Alice in Wonderland, inspired by) Brighton. Their newest album, Fall Forever is every Dream Pop lover’s dream. Between their mix of ambient vocals and manipulated instrumental sounds, the listener falls deeply into a hypnotic state.
The first phase of this hypnosis begins with the vocals of Jess Weiss. Her airy voice mumbles through the lyrics before latching onto the instrumentation and creating winsome hooks and refrains. Despite the captivating sound, the lyrics leave a sense of dread and that is what makes these songs so appealing. One could be listening to a song and fully ingratiating oneself into the beauty of it before realizing the dismal subject matter.
The song “Undine” pairs a repetitive drumbeat and manipulated slide guitar with Weiss’s vocals and anxiety ridden lyrics as she sings, “Force my nerves to bend to feel what you feel/I could break apart disintegrate here” and “The change in me is never what you hoped it would be.” The song “Island” explores more on the side of experimental sounds and features instrumentation that seems inspired by Clint Mansell a la Requiem for a Dream. At least, with that song it seems normal for lyrics like “You tell me impossible things that break me” and “I need the silence, I will shed you like I shed my body” to be sung.
When one thinks of the city of Brighton in South East England, one does not first think of Indie Pop. Fear of Men should change that though. Their experimental, ethereal sound and bewitching vocals that leave listeners transfixed, will be a draw to any listener and for those who are not drawn to this music, listen to it anyway and maybe like Alice, you will escape to a Wonderland also.