It could be argued that the purpose of fairy tales is not simply to entertain, but to prepare younglings for the realities of life by teaching them that what seems alien may be understood, and what seems familiar can be dangerous. If you take a step or two away from the now accepted norm that is the Disney rendition of the fairy tale to, say, one of the original versions of Cinderella, you find the unexpected, the suppressed. One of the ugly sisters cuts off her own heel to try to get into that discarded shoe, and at the end of the story both sisters have their eyes pecked out by doves. So, what happens when you step from there, or from the real world of 2017, or simultaneously from both into the world of Frau Pouch? You get ‘Fairymares‘. That’s what.
Lyrically, singer/guitarist Joe is probably peerless. Surely nobody else writes stuff like this. The songs are, as you might have already expected, a mixture of skewed, dark folklore, fiction and frank observation. Imagine living in a town that’s really amenable and generally great to live in – not even any Tories or racists there – but you can’t go out at night because the cats will kill you (Cat Curfew), or Dracula on a night out, throwing up blood, frightened of discovery but ultimately accepted (Dracula Pukes). There are moments where the veil is lifted, particularly in “Burn Baby“, which seems to have Akira Takizawa in a shopping mall in the Upside Down on the wrong end of some bad lotus flowers. That particular track is a stand out, as is “Witch Fingers“, which I can’t write about because I’m scared. You’ll have to walk into that one blind. Good luck.
Other songs are more like traditional fairy tales with a twist, “The Gotham Piper“, for example, and “Ghost Fire“, which takes Hansel and Gretel and makes it even more odd and unsettling. There’s also the clever use of The Elves and the Shoemaker to tell the true story of how all clocks came to be erotic (prior to the early 19th Century, this was not the case at all and almost all clocks were plain and frumpy – hard to imagine now).
Fairymares is the first full album from Frau Pouch and it’s been a while coming. There have been lo-fi recordings, an EP, some radio sessions and shared singles from the band to date, but this album feels like a full arrival.
Sonically it’s great. A bit more polish than on some of the band’s previous outings, but only a bit. It sounds like Frau Pouch live for the most part, only you can hear all the words. Joes’ staccato guitar and vocal delivery sit perfectly over Suze’s primal drums and Ollie’s increasingly upfront bass. It’s like filthy post-punk disco on a suspiciously sticky dancefloor, punctuated by epic, brooding yet sometimes minimalist breaks. The band say that they sound a bit like Gang Of Four to everybody over 30. They do, and I am, and so I’m going to mention Pere Ubu and The Fall too, but comparisons are hard to make and seldom useful, so I advise you to get your own copy or download the album from Bandcamp.
Fairymares is out now on Skingasm Records.