Film Review: These Animal Men / S*M*A*S*H* – Flawed Is Beautiful

  • Phinky posted
  • Reviews

These Animal Men / S*M*A*S*H*

Flawed Is Beautiful - Flawed Is Beautiful Productions

The New Wave Of New Wave was brief shining light in the nineties, although it was short lived it burned incredibly brightly, and produced two incendiary bands, These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H*, Flawed Is Beautiful is a film about two bands, These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H, who formed a scene swiftly dubbed by the press as the New Wave Of New Wave. The magnesium flash that, for better or worse, lit the way for Britpop.  Flawed Is Beautiful is also a story of media complicity and career hari kiri, it is about bold ideas, insatiable appetites, international travel, cheap drugs and pre-destined failure. It is also about the British music industry spinning towards its final years of economic excess and Thatcher’s children biting back. It is about tight t-shirts, eyeliner and what happens when your fifteen minutes of fame runs out and it acts as a cautionary tale from which no one learned any lessons. 

Both These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H* had their origins in punk, but they both took the influences and combined it with their own elements to create two unique bands that became curiously intertwined over their short lifespan. Flawed Is Beautiful is the perfect description for a documentary about these two bands, both were born out of a DIY scene, and disaffection with the music scene in the UK at the time, that led to record deals, critical acclaim and distribution before self destruction bought things to an abrupt halt. The amphetamine fuelled chaos of shows by These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H* were a refreshing change in what was becoming a largely stagnant tangle of dreadlocks and doc martens, and their shows remain amongst my favourite, albeit hazy, memories of the 1990’s.

Flawed Is Beautiful contains contributions from almost all the original members of the two bands, only These Animal Men‘s keyboard player, and former child star of Time Bandits, Craig Warnock, is absent from the ranks, alongside the bands are contrinutions from journalists and those involved in the scene at the time, including critically acclaimed music journalists Simon Price and John Robb. Flawed Is Beautiful pulls no punches, from the dizzying highs of success and creativity, through the drug abuse, bad luck and stubbornness that inevitably led to the downfall of these two all too often overlooked British bands that bought something unique to the UK, and more importantly injected some excitement and unpredictability into what was becoming an increasingly predictable, lifeless and uninspiring music scene.

It catches the controversy, both These Animal Men‘s Speeed King and S*M*A*S*H*‘s Lady Love Your Cunt outraged the mainstream media, and in the formers case resulted in calls for them to be banned by an Conservative MP, and any scene worth it’s salt always outrages the sensibilities of the mainstream media. It could also be argued that these bands inadvertently gave birth to Britpop, they influenced the fashion of the time and despite neither band never having a hit single they dominated the music press, appeared on television, including the BBC’s flagship music show, Top Of The Pops, and brought music back to life in the UK for a few unforgettable years. Flawed Is Beautiful is a documentary that summarises the era perfectly, it looks back fondly on the scene but acknowledges the flaws that led the everything fracturing and falling apart. If you weren’t there Flawed Is Beautiful captures the time perfectly and will show you what you missed, if you were there then you need this film to remind you exactly what you were up to.

The new wave of new wave was short, excessive and unforgettable, if you can lay your hands on any of the releases by these to bands, especially These Animal Men‘s debut album Welcome To The High Society, then I’d recommend you pick up a copy and enjoy what was a brief drug fuelled period of hedonism and excess in the British music scene that is now largely overlooked. For all the misfortune and problems the bands encountered Flawed Is Beautiful ends on an upbeat note, where with the benefits of hindsight the bands can see what they achieved and what they still have. This is a film that perfectly captures the spirit of a brief moment in musical history, Flawed Is Beautiful  should be on your Xmas list as this is an example of just how a music documentary should be done.

Flawed Is Beautiful can be purchased here