Isa and the Filthy Tongues - Addiction
Miss Fliss 03/09/2009
Guitarist Martin Metcalf's previous bands Angelfish and Goodbye Mr Mackenzie bear mention from the offset, if only to serve as a signifier of the dark ambience continuing from those bands into this debut by Isa and the Filthy Tongues. Frontwoman Isa (neé, Stacey Chavis) is more Kim Gordon than ShirleyManson, however. This goes for the hoarse, sexy, monologue style as much as it does the vision of her face on the album's cover. It comes to the fore most with the track Dreamcatcher, a neon-lit road movie soundtrack with rockabilly guitar twang and a menacing undertow, all wrapped up in Stacey's talking-thinking aloud crisp whisper and a rush of Sonic Youth discord.
Addiction, a re-release of Isa and the Filthy Tongues' 2006 debut album, is a predominantly sassy yet borderline gothic beast. There are snarls more than smiles, and Stacey's singing style is such that it's small wonder she is the band focus since she sounds so in control, commanding the music around her, calling the shots. This is the kind of female singer I want, far and removed from the dull domesticity and anaemia of your Florences and Kates. There's a presence and power to what Stacey Chavis does, and that's necessary and rare.
The single I'll do What I want to is a high point of the album with its winding hypnotic guitar lines and cutting melody. Elsewhere, there's a pretty faithful rendition of The Velvet Underground's lesser known I Can't Stand it Anymore, which hits the spot. This is an album that strikes into its stride of potent, eerie post-punk edged indie rock for two thirds of its duration, before swinging into strangely suddenly bright mode and back again. After the rusty rockabilly roustabout of the first eleven tracks, we reach For How Many Days, a straight up catchy indie pop number that rings out with chiming lightness and sweet, resplendent with sugary girly vocals and chorus to die for. Then there's the oddity that follows in the form of Ginger Beer which is a heady pop song, featuring a chorus of candy-happy kids whooshing with glee: Whooop! Yeeeeahhh! over and over as a loop of gutiars whorl around. Then it's a cut into the foot-stomping Lou Reed cover and a re-working of Finders Fuckers, and we're done and left a bit dazed with the rush of it all. Finders Fuckers, I must add is a low point of the album for me, with its cringe-worthy Americanised sassiness: I'm gawna find heeem/and fack him, and two versions is overkill. In the face of the pop splendour of How Many Days or Ginger Beer it also serves to show up the fact that Isa and the Filthy Tongues could have dropped their icy cool and gloom in favour of a pure indie pop direction to different, more accessible results.
But this is a fine debut album, and what Isa and the Filthy Tongues do the most seems to be their best (and most comfortable). That is to say, chilling threats of rockabilly, hints of Sonic Youth art-rock, rusty country tinges, gothic post-punk, and goodtime old rock and roll.