Fear of Men

Love and Loss

Jun 10, 2016 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Issue # 57 - M83
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Following an auspicious singles collection in 2013's Early Fragments, and their even better debut LP Loom, released in 2014, Fear of Men established themselves as a highly idiosyncratic entity in the annals of British indie pop music. They carried the torch of The Smiths and Cocteau Twins, daring to sound lush and melodic while challenging listenersfrontwoman Jessica Weiss' arcane literary references would make even Morrissey blush, anathema in an era of pop culture that seems to grow more anti-intellectual by the second. On their second proper LP, Fall Forever, Fear of Men retain much of their signature appeal, with minor sonic accoutrements that render the album an even more compelling listen than their debut. A spiky, more abrasive guitar sound courtesy of Daniel Falvey and the looping electronic drum programming of percussionist Michael Miles suit the new album and its lyrical themes like a glove.

The band were eager to evolve sonically, and Fall sounds a lot less like The Smiths, which can be directly attributed to Falvey exploring new figures and textures in contrast to his Johnny Marr-indebted arpeggios on the band's debut. "I wanted to provide counter-melodies to Jess' melodies, which I really loved, and I wanted to play off that so that they were sort of elevated when combined together," he explains. "But this time I wanted to focus more on the strength of Jess and her lyrics, with guitars and production that reflected the strength that I saw in her."

Weiss has indeed raised the stakes with her lyrics, gloriously disarming without deigning to histrionics, delivered in a plaintive, shiver-inducing quaver. They're a stark contrast with the sometimes pedantic nature of her earlier writing, which often felt as though she was inhabiting another's voice. "I feel like they're extremely personal," she says of the songs on Fall Forever. "If you know me and you know what'd happened in my life then they are not too obscure to interpret. I've certainly had moments where people have seen a window into my mind that I didn't mean to leave exposed. I'm constantly writing, and hopefully getting better at expressing myself, trying to find my own voice. On Loom and Early Fragments I was sometimes hiding behind the words of others, but this record is speaking as myself a lot more. There are still literary allusions, but I'm not sure if they'll even be apparent because now it's just taking the flavor of what a work meant to me rather than drawing a direct comparison."

But the allusions were guided by a unifying threadlove. It's the crux of the record, and the human condition, and Weiss' reading while writing the album enhanced her heightened awareness of its myriad layers. "I was reading a lot of books trying to understand love while making the record," she says. "A Lover's Discourse by Barthes, Conditions of Love by John Armstrong, Works of Love by Kierkegaard, Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties. Books like these are fascinating for trying to understand yourself and relationships and just anyone at all in the world too.... Love is so universal and so unknowable."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's May/June 2016 Issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.





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