Phobophobes hail from Brixton, and only formed in 2014. They contain members / former members of Fat White Family and Meat Raffle, and certainly come from a similar world of depraved post-punk. No Flavour is their debut single, and the B-side is an unexpected cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower Of Song’. 7” on Bam Records.
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- No Flavour by Phobophobes
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7/10 Ben Customer review, 26th April 2016
I’m writing this review because I’m already bored, sick and tired of hearing Phobophobes introduced as ‘Phobophobes, featuring an ex-member of Fat White Family’. Phobophobes should be introduced on their own merits, because they are ace.
I first heard Phobophobes on a 7” single sent out through Flying Vinyl. It was an excellent introduction – a couple of sinister ditties pressed on translucent blood red vinyl with cover art featuring loads of oddly posed limbs cut from the pages of newspapers. Music and artwork were married perfectly together; the songs (Advertise Your Life and Make A Person, both with pretty messed up videos on Youtube (one of which features the singer taking a three and a half minute long piss)) have a kind of Ian Curtis warbling mumble of a vocal drifting on top of a thick, gloopy soup of neo-psychedelic instrumentation: driving, symbol laden drums, creepy haunted house organ aping keyboards and a rumbling, rolling bass line.
These guys were so cool and weird I was really looking forward to hearing more, and finally I was introduced to Norman Records because they seem to be the only online retailer selling the new Phobophobes single: No Flavour.
The design on show on the No Flavour single is not quite as flamboyant as the Advertise Your Life/Make A Person 7”, but it is pretty interesting nonetheless. There are all kinds of shades of 1970s brown with (presumably) No Flavour written in a number of languages. The vinyl itself is plain, classic black (nothing wrong with that) and the label is taken up by a picture of a percolating, mould filled petri dish, which is pretty neat. I love a band who can find creative round things to have pictures of on their record labels. Thumbs up.
The A side, No Flavour is recognisable as a Phobophobes song, but it takes the fuzz and scuzz up a notch compared to the previous singles. There is a kind of nightmarish, cabaret glam about the whole affair. The vocals are a lot less robotic and the whole things seems like it might come off the rails at any point. After the motoric precision of the debut single, No Flavour offers a much less sanitised sound and it is a great shot in the arm. The music video on Youtube reflects this: it is a much more low rent vision of the band. These three originals released so far showcase a great young band who will not be playing in squats for long.
If the single stopped here, all would be well. I heart Phobophobes.
They might as well have not bothered with the B side though. It is a karaoke version of Leonard Cohen’s Tower of Song, which is too low for the vocalist to handle. It doesn’t really add anything to the original and it doesn’t really fit with the other offerings put forward by this interesting and intense young band. Maybe they ran out of songs. Maybe it’s a funny hipster prank. Maybe they just like karaoke.
That said, I still think Phobophobes are great. No Flavour is a great song and it sounds great on wax.
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