ARCTIC FLOWERS – STRAIGHT TO THE HUNTER LP (ARCTIC FLOWERS (US) / SABOTAGE (EUROPE)

There’s a lot to be said for sticking around. Whereas most punk bands these days like to drop in, drop an EP and drop out again, leaving very little in the way of anything to remember them by, let alone leaving any time or space for development of anything close to unique ideas that they might have had. Instead it’s just some quick popularity following well trodden paths, a quick shuffling of members, and off onto the next trend or project. ARCTIC FLOWERS have different ideas.

Opening with a distinctively WIPERS guitar riff nodding heavily to their geography, ARCTIC FLOWERS continue their gothic-tinged anarcho post-punk on the opening tracks ‘Hallowed Water’ followed by ‘Glass On Ice’. Evocative of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES meets Chicago’s DA! coursing through the veins of the 1983 Phoenix ‘female fronted’ hardcore punk of CONFLICT (U.S.) But it’s on their third song here; ‘Rose In Bend’, that the band really steps up to the next level.

Grasping their now three-albums-deep song writing skills by the scruff of the neck, they inject a new pathos as well as urgency into their take on ‘post-punk’, and with the apparent new found confidence of vocalist Alex Carroccio, ‘Rose In Bend’ sees them spread their wings and soar above all other challengers of this sub-genre. Swooping only momentarily near the end of the song, just to recharge, and then raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

So much of the modern ‘post-punk’ trend relies on overdone guitar effects or pretentious faux-ethereal hollow bullshit, instead ARCTIC FLOWERS sound more like the more obscure purveyors of old, like Bostonians V; or Texans MyDolls. Distinctly feminine imbued post-punk bands, with barbed guitars and sharp tongues.

Stan Wright’s guitar is still as shimmering as it is menacing, Lee Lawrence’s bass at times reminiscent of Grant Matthews of RUDIMENTARY PENI, while Cliff Martin pounds the skins like he’s playing on a far crustier record. The only modern equivalents to the ARCTIC FLOWERS approach that spring to mind are THE ESTRANGED or BEASTMILK.

Fourth song ‘Whip Hand’ is followed by ARCTIC FLOWERS unique take on ‘Dreamer’ by TOXIC REASONS, as they take you on a tour of their influences; also visiting a late 1980s UK, and the likes of INDIAN DREAM and JOYCE McKINNEY EXPERIENCE. You can almost hear the band sharing their musical passions, and then hashing them out until they perfect their vision in a dank practice room. And listening to this you can almost smell a dank gig in the 1980s UK. That doesn’t happen very often these days.

Like I said, there’s a lot to be said for sticking around.

Listen to: Hallow Water

(Welly Artcore)

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