EP Review: Fred Astaire by The Apple Moths (1990, A Turntable Friend / Re-issued 2017, Firestation Records)

The Apple Moths are a band I want to stake a claim in. I want to be able to say that I saw them live in the Derbyshire Miners Club, in a town that has a proper northern name, like Skegarklebottom.

I didn’t. In fact, until such time as Uwe Wiegmann gave them the inimitable Firestation Records re-issue treatment in 2017, they had never even registered a blip with me or any of my ‘internet indie acquaintances’ in our informal ‘who is the most indie’ chats.

So why so little acknowledgement for such a great band? The easy answer is undoubtedly ‘placement’. This Bradford based four piece did not quite fit anywhere. Their style of gorgeous, flourishing guitar pop may have been best suited to the early/mid 80’s scouse-pop bands like Candy Opera (another band bought back to life by Firestation) or Pale Fountains.

However, the fluttering acoustics of their guitar work and the lack of a definitive rounded croon in the vocals, along with the fact that they were 5 years too late and on the other side of the war of the roses divide, meant that the sophisti-pop brilliance of tracks such as Fred Astaire (see below), Elvis and Miserable Town (the three tracks on the original 7″ out of A Turntable Friend) had no natural musical coat tails to cling on to. They therefore had no choice but to remain uniquely brilliant.

A couple of the extra tracks that Firestation add in their re-issue have a somewhat different stylistic, but one more, these never really fit in anywhere in the musical climate of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

It was not without trying as both Everything and Kymri (see below) add that inflected Morrissey croon to the vocals that was utilized by so many as the ‘indie necessity of the era. However, as is the way with this band, they were not prepared to simply mimic as so many bands who traipsed the paths furrowed by The Smiths did.

The fact that they could not quite shake off the lead guitar flutter and the sophisti-pop shine and also added chunky post-punk bass lines to these tracks, meant that they produced a vibe that was an extremely intriguing mix of era-centric stylistics. Perhaps not as strong as the three tracks on the original single, but once more incredibly unique (perhaps despite themselves?) among a sea of follow my leader (Morrissey) uniformity.

Another  truly great sound resurrected by Firestation.

Fred Astaire


Artist Links:  Discogs

Label Links:  firestation-records.deFacebookSoundCloudYouTube


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