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AOK by Fleeing New York

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Reviewed on 14th November 2004.



By Fleeing New York

I am loving the whole boy/girl vocal trend that seems to be kicking off at the moment. The Subways, Young Heart Attack, The Raveonettes all get the thumbs up from me for proving that rock 'n' roll is not gendered. And here Fleeing New York offer yet another fine example of this genre.

This eight-track mini album from the South Coast trio, displays expertly executed vocals against a backdrop of jerky guitar noise which has led to comparisons to the Detroit sound of The Von Bondies and The White Stripes. Yet, despite being a self-confessed Von Bondies fan, I can honestly say that the more I listen to this album, the more I believe that they actually have much more to offer.

Opening track 'Monkey' is immediately impressive, setting the pace for the rest of the album. The shared vocals are shown to compliment each other perfectly, creating sexy, gravely harmonies. Male vocalist, Russell Marsden's voice proves to be reminiscent in places of Richard Ashcroft at his best, sounding really bare against Emma Richardson's more high-pitched offerings. Debut single 'Hollywood Bowl' portrays Richardson's vocals at their finest; so sultry and dark it is hard to believe that she is only 21 years old. I've been trying to think of some scenario which will sum up the image she conjures during this song and the only thing I can think of is Jessica Rabbit! Which I don't quite think does her justice for the rock 'n' roll icon I'm sure she is capable of being! Yet she just seems to ooze sexiness in this track, you can picture her in some smoky, darkened room years and years ago, enthralling the audience of some sleazy men's club... I'm gonna stop with this now. Listen to the track, you'll know what I mean.

Fleeing New York somehow manage to pack so much into a song you pick something different up from them from every listen. Each track is full of unusual twists and progressions, 'Oh My God', for example, appears to be a sweet, pacy little number, Marsden croaking out shouts of "oh my god", over scratchy guitar noise only for everything to then slow down to a sweet, sorrowful croon of, "damn you, damn you..." capturing a soft, heartfelt emotion. Such a progression is evident too in title track 'AOK', despite the initial opening sounding rather like Morrissey's 'Irish Blood, English Heart', the staccato sound makes it an absolute corker of a track, slowing down for the bridge, before stomping right back into the chorus.

'Sun is Low' I think has got to be one of the greatest highlights of the album for me. Whereas elsewhere on the album Marsden's excellence is sometimes overshadowed by Richardson, it is on this track that he manages to regain the status of a rock 'n' roll frontman. He growls his way through cries of "wouldn't know, woah no...", spitting out the lyrics like poisonous venom. I think I am allowed to say that he sounds completely sexy here... so gravel-y! The duelling continues though with Richardson snatching back lead vocals halfway through. My god, this girl can sing.

Fleeing New York possess a crisp, raw sound and display an addictive energy. Proving that they can slow it down, 'Blind Fever' is an altogether more tranquil tune. Marsden manages to send shivers down the spine with his chilling vocals, whilst Richardson, with the lyrics "I feel a little strong/ though I seem a little weak" displays a mesmerising fragility. My only grievance here, is that at nearly six minutes long the song seems to drag slightly; what at first seems an endearing, bluesy lament runs the risk of turning into something quite dreary. Yet this is only a slight criticism. Fleeing New York possess a vitality and filthy exuberance which I think grows with each listen. Don't get me wrong, this album is not perfect; yet it is damn close to it. Showing an addictive variety of sound, all that is left for the Southampton three piece to prove to me is that they can pull it off live. I have definitely made a note to check them out and strongly recommend that you invest in this album. It will be worth it.



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