Not With That Attitude by FightmilkRelease date: November 2, 2018
Label: Reckless Yes
Hey kids! Is that the fizzing rush of indie-pop angst I hear? I do believe it is you know, rom-com songs of lust and betrayal, charging guitars and soaring, shouty choruses. Fightmilk has them all. Not With That Attitude teems with relationship disasters and still-raw lessons learned. From the opening line “congratulations on your terrible tattoo” you sense you’re in good company. ‘How You Move On’ tells a sad tale of being misguidedly immortalised on the skin of an ex. It seems both Lily Rae and Alex Wisgard made failed attempts to save relationships with romantic city breaks to Amsterdam. Commiserating with one another through drink and music they started writing songs and formed Fightmilk. ‘Four Star Hotel’ is the true story of those doomed trips, of the end of love and the start of the band. There’s an enjoyable chant of “All the cyclists were staring” and a strong shot of Los Campesinos! about it. How can you say no?
Not With That Attitude is the sound of smart young people smacking face first into life’s gravel road. Fightmilk dust themselves off and, after crying in their rooms and licking their wounds while binge watching TV, get it off their chest through some boot stomping catharsis. Their name comes from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, a home made protein shake for bouncers made of milk, vodka and a crow’s egg. Somehow this seems appropriate. The pop culture references abound ‘Lucy’ channels the universal battle of hope and frustration as seen through poor old Charlie Brown (“Lucy, let me kick the ball”) over raging 90’s alt rock. ‘Solving Crimes In Sweden’ hardly needs explanation but involves too much Scandi drama and dreaming of escape with the autistic detective of your choice. Opening at a gentle pace over the familiar acoustic strums and piano chords of indie balladry, dramatic drums burst into soaring guitar. It flirts shamelessly with tipping over into something truly horrible and formulaic yet gets away with it through a lack of cynicism and a glowing chorus.
It’s not the only time they do this either, while their stock in trade is a sharp blend of 90’s indie rock moves and lyrical bite, in the middle of the album is a shimmering, floating, 80’s pop hit waiting for it’s moment. ‘Dream Phone’ opens on a dial tone (a sure nod to Blondie) and a guitar line reminiscent of New Order’s ‘Ceremony’. Once the verse starts in it conjures old video images of neon in puddles and fabric billowing in wind machines. They lean into it with some nicely treated old school drum loops and a lighter sound. The lyric is very different as well, dreamy and longing where the rest of the album is earthy and acidic. You can totally picture Belinda Carlisle singing it while hanging out of a sun roof, tooling down the PCH to San Junipero.
Elsewhere ‘Get A Grip’ has a handclap and footstomp rhythm custom built for festival crowds and a satisfyingly relatable dose of vitriol for them to shout along with as well. The final track ‘Your Girlfriend’ is spruced up and reworked from their first EP. There’s some Pixies in its DNA and a slowly unraveling lyric “Your girlfriend’s really nice, I know she’ll treat you right . . .” Uh oh, we’ve all heard this one before. It’s a desperate sigh of unrequited love and it’s wonderfully done.
Not With That Attitude is going to mean a lot to some people. Possibly they’re just finishing their first half term at college and settling awkwardly into new versions of themselves, possibly not. Somewhere there’s people who are going to love, and live these songs. There’s also grumpy cynical old sods like me who are still prone to periodic inappropriate crushes on records like this. Not With That Attitude sits comfortably between Bleached’s Welcome the Worms and Martha’s Courting Strong in that happy list because songs that mirror lived experience, that carry emotional truths with a dash of sharp wit, wrapped in pleasing melodies – that’s still one of the best things pop can do.