Fightmilk – Contender

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews


Contender - Reckless Yes

I was determined not to say that ‘Fightmilk‘ as an excellent name for a band but screw it, it IS an excellent name and not having heard any of the band’s previous output, I was intrigued about this album from the outset. That might seem like a shallow response. It’s only a name after all. But it’s more than that. A band’s name hints at their ethos, their attention to detail and, most importantly, how they desire us, the audience, to react to them.

Contender, the band’s second album, was a long time cooking, the result of lockdown disruption to the usual way of doing things. The album rushes and then meanders through moods and feelings, from jaunty powerpop (Hey Annabelle!) to the more reflective (Maybe), all rounded up into one gorgeous 45-minute drama, punctuated by short musical reprises and intermissions (contender/tender/bartender). The fragmentation of the recording process might be responsible for the stylistic shifts, allowing for more time for reflection before committing to a recording. Maybe it’s evidence of a band maturing and finding themselves. In that vein, there’s a strong thread of self-realisation running through this work. In this, they’re in the tradition of, perhaps, Pulp who also had the knack of making big songs about small and ordinary things (“Well I heard that you moved to the beach just to get away/And I’d hate to think of you burning by the penny arcades” – Overbite). This approach is never more evident than in I’m Starting to Think You Don’t Even Want to Go to Space, which is a reproach in song form to anyone who talks a good game, but actually delivers very little.

It seems invidious to choose favourites from such a fine and consistent album but the closing passage – the introspective Maybe and the charmingly bonkers Overbite, bisected by an instrumental reprise, for a perfect encapsulation of the Fightmilk methodology. But the whole album is stuffed with earworms. Part dayglo, part darkness, there’s something in here for everyone and it’s all wrapped up in a charming and innocently knowing way. The guitars chime and chug, there’s light and there’s shade.

An early contender, if you will, for this reviewer’s album of the year. Highly, highly recommended.

Contender by Fightmilk is out today on Reckless Yes and can be streamed and purchased here