Reviews

Furrowed Brow


Manchester-based punk experimentalists Furrowed Brow are set to release their new single

A-side “Punctual Punk” and B-side “The Narrative of Hugh Gordon Pym,”
Released on April 7th 2021

Image Credit Jimi McDonald

Set your timers for the 7th of April, for that’ s when Manchester-based quintet Furrowed Brow will unveil their rollicking two-track release “Punctual Punk” and “The Narrative of Hugh Gordon Pym.” They ‘ll be released from the band’ s own label, Notes From Underground.

Clocking in at under two minutes, “Punctual Punk” delivers the musical lovechild of Magazine and The B-52s. The track tells the story of a rendezvous between the protagonist and a tardy scoundrel who, for once, has surprisingly failed to be late. Woven intro the track is philosopher Albert Camus ’ s commentary on the absurdity of existence, underscoring that in the end, the small matters we concern ourselves with ultimately carry no weight.

“It’ s probably one of the stupidest songs I’ ve ever written but also one of the catchiest – it’ s simply about meeting up with a friend and him being unexpectedly on time, ” shares Richey, Furrowed Brow ’ s vocalist. “ We threw a few lines of Camus in to spice things up, also because it’ s important to remember that although everything we do is meaningless, we have to live or die by the truth.”

Furrowed Brow filmed a music video for “Punctual Punk” during lockdown, which you can check out here.

 “The Narrative of Hugh Gordon Pym ” sees Furrowed Brow ’ s wonderfully waggish lyrics hit new levels of sardonic sauciness. Set against the backdrop of stomping 70s glam, the track channels the bleak mystique of Edgar Allen Poe and blasts it through the prism of coronavirus and BBC News at One.

“The B-side ’ s even better which means that of course that fewer people will like it, ” shares Richey. “It’ s the only song we ‘ll ever do about the pandemic so relish it while you can.”

Between the track’ s five minute duration and inclusion of a lyric that calls out Dominic Cummings for acting like a twat, it’ s needless to say that there ’ s plenty to relish.

While both tracks are different, they share Furrowed Brow ‘s signature elixir of bleak glamour and whiz-bang energy that makes their work a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.

With anxiety, frustration and confusion etched into their very name, Furrowed Brow don’t know the meaning of fitting in. Since forming in Manchester in 2019, they’ve become well known (some might say notorious) across the North West of England for their fiercely unconventional sound and unruly, irreverent shows – droll, playful, subversive, sexy and intelligent – before the pandemic said goodbye to all that. Authentic and uncompromising, they find themselves totally out of sync with everybody and everything, part of no scene and unapologetically underground.

Musically, Furrowed Brow are up-tempo, glamorous and punky with yelping backing vocals and wry, meaningful lyrics that ridicule the duplicity and self-righteousness pervasive in today’s society. Tedious, mawkish love songs are dismissed with scoffing contempt – only irresistibly catchy and thought-provoking post-punk go-go weirdness will do.

Think The Fall meets The Divine Comedy, The Magnetic Fields processed through Larkin and Dostoyevsky, The Modern Lovers with intellect, or Violent Femmes with tits.

Their latest offering, “Punctual Punk, ” is actually something of a reprieve from the intricate, idiosyncratic defiance of the band’s recordings that are already available on Spotify. They’ve been pretty busy, having issued six songs in just nine months. This has ranged from EP “Dead Dead Dead Still Digging” to single “Pissing Superfluous” – the latter of which is an expletive-strewn art statement of intent with absolutely zero chance of airplay. To them it matters not; they are not here to conform or to entertain.

Approval is not required, and they won’t compromise for commercial concerns. In the current climate of polished, cynical professionalism where bands obsess over “building their brand, ” “maintaining an online presence, ” and “coordinating a product marketing strategy, ” wilful integrity and artistic pig-headedness of this degree are rare and beautiful virtues. You won’t find any merchandise on Furrowed Brow’s Bandcamp because they have nothing to sell – except their music. With so much artifice and mediocrity lurking around every corner the world needs bands like this now more than ever. No one is safe!

Enter Richey: singer, archaeologist, perfumed ponce and anti-hero, and the human residue of years in the wilderness banging his head against walls of icy indifference while listening to enough Morrissey and The Smiths to kill a horse. Little escapes his scrutiny though his eyes be often narrowed, and his acerbic, sardonic songwriting forms the backbone of the band. His lyrics exude a devil-may-care impudence, rarely earnest but often contemptuous of the hypocrisies and disingenuousness of contemporary life. Richey’s love of the tragic blended with humour reflects his influences, among them Julian Cope & The Teardrop Explodes, Magazine, Pulp, Mansun, The Damned, The Kinks, Television Personalities, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Soft Boys, Go-Kart Mozart, Patrick Hamilton, Ivan Turgenev, Kafka, Oscar Wilde, and Knut Hamsun.

The rest of the group brings the raucous energy required to drag these perfectly crafted visions of dark genius from the sullen cave of Richey’s mind and, feet stamping, parade them into the world with gleeful fanfare. Alex, main handler and artistic foil, adds Dr. Who wails, distorted solos, and queer flourishes on keyboard and synth – along with always enthusiastic, tuneful backing vocals. Adorable lead guitarist Meg brings refreshing notes of cuteness and innocence, whilst slamming your ears with spiky riffs. Bassist Evie is the resident painter, costumier, dominatrix, and also the newest member of the band, contributing a mysterious blend of shuddering bass and sweet, sexy harmonies. And (literally) stand-up drummer Criostoir keeps everyone marching along with his affable humour and stomping glam rhythms.

Furrowed Brow are not afraid to make fun of themselves, each other and you. They love to provoke an audience and their shows and recorded output induce excitement and amusement in equal measure, simultaneously raising hackles, heckles, and cackles. They ooze gothic archness and a nihilistic impertinence. But,the counterpart of nihilism is always hedonism: playfulness and frivolity, experimentation, pretension, contradiction, extravagance, and glamour.

Or, in the words of the band…

“We evoke the absent Negative – the unspoken and unthought always at hand; the unavoidable avoided. The Negative is gloomy, dispiriting, sometimes heartbreakingly so, but it’s omnipresent, — instantly recognisable and real. There is no “good” or “bad” — only truth. Our songs confront the jeering absurdity of human existence head on. Too often we’re bedevilled by the empty platitudes of “love and light, ” like donkeys feeding on roses of illusion, of fine ideals reduced to the lowest common denominators: vanity and spurious cheerfulness. Nobody ever feels the better for it. We represent positivity through negativity.”

PEOPLE HAVE SAID…

“A band as intelligent as they are appreciative in comedy while they analyze the human condition in a cleverly satirical way instead of waving their fingers at us. They’re classy, but not afraid to rough us up a bit, and that’s a juxtaposition you don’t usually see in contemporary music. I’m excited, but I also feel a little insulted, and I love it” – Melt Reviews

“Something fucking wonderful. It’s the sound of a band who basically care not one jot for what is fashionable. I’m not entirely sure they care what the listening public thinks of what they do. They just do what they do, what they like, and leave for us to decide whether we like it. I love it … There is so much variation – mutant art-rock, mutant indie (I kid you not) – but it all comes with that Furrowed Brow thing” – Local Sound Focus

“The antidote to blokey, white-bread guitar rock – the Anti-Sherlocks”– New Sounds Magazine

“Quirky, upbeat, shambolic, nonchalant , irreverent, brilliant … this band catapulted me backward to 1977 / 1978 when everything was possible and there were no rules when the swagger of punk had cooled replaced with inventive, no rules new noise”– Paul Travis, A1M Records

“Dystopian stripped back post punk that captures the spirit of The Fall’s chaotic legacy perfectly … they are shambolic, eccentric and are gleefully doing things very much on their own terms”– The Punk Site

“Fools who came to scoff remained to pray” – Oliver Goldsmith

WHO’S WHO

Richey – Vocals (He/Him)
Alex – Keys/Synth/Vocals (She/Her)
Evie – Bass/Vocals (They/Them)
Meg – Guitar (She/Her)
Criostoir – Drums (He/Him)

Furrowed Brow – Punctual Punk (April 7th)

Furrowed Brow – Dead Dead Dead Still Digging

Furrowed Brow – Cool As Hell

Furrowed Brow links:
Band/Artist location – Manchester England
Facebook – You TubeSoundcloudBandcamp – 
Instagram – AppleSpotifyAmazonDeezerGoogle Play


PETE'S ROCK NEWS AND VIEWS.COM