Time to bring back the Random Jukebox, and this time it’s picked a band… and a defunct one at that, so that’s why this kaput combo didn‘t make the grade for inclusion in that formidable Irish Icons list. However, the Emerald Isle had, quite simply, never seen a band like Fight Like Apes.
It’s not because they sometimes eschewed guitars, or used kitchen implements as stage props. It’s not because they treated each gig as if it were their last, and it’s certainly not because they were destined for international renown, because that didn’t exactly happen (not a single chart entry across the water in Britain, sadly). Mostly, it’s because the quartet refused to take themselves seriously, acting as a palette-cleansing antidote to the dour “woolly jumper brigade” that dragged Irish music into the depths of despair a decade or so ago.
With MayKay’s banshee wailing to the fore (the Kildare born singer looks a bit like Siouxsie Sioux collided with a Corr, though sounds more like Wendy James singing Transvision Vamp songs but better), the Dublin based band polarised opinions more than other in recent memory too, even surpassing Westlife; those who “got” FLA adored them unswervingly, while their detractors gnash teeth in search of adjectives to describe their “gimmick”. Yet it’s only a gimmick if there’s no substance underneath, and their astonishing first album, 2008’s Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion is a compelling testament to their worth, not to mention loaded with compelling tunes: from the doleful lament of Tie Me Up With Jackets to the insistent wallop of Lend Me Your Face, it was an impertinent slice of synth-addled pop-pun.
Released in 2010, The Body of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner was the sophomore set that continued the band’s hilarious B movie-styled titles. Produced by the Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill, the album continued the fusion of melancholy and whimsy, and contains the brilliantly acerbic single Hoo Ha Henry.
Bringing things to a conclusion, in 2014 the Whigfield Sextape EP caused a minor splash followed by a self titled third and final album in 2015.
FLApes might never have quite recaptured the boorish, compelling, in-your-face energy of that debut – but still, what a debut.