Flesh – The Indelicates
The opening comes on like Pulp’s This is Hardcore, all clashing, sexy drums and cymbals. It holds this for a few seconds, the indie shorthand for this is going to be seedy, before breaking open into more traditional Indelicates territory, as horns build on top. It’s all seductively pretty-sounding for an impressively long time. And then a hissed flesssshhh, like a wound opening, and:
“Hey girls, let’s see if we can bring out the rapists in the new men.”
The first time, it’s absolutely jaw-dropping.
And the rest of the song continues in a similar fashion. It reminds me a little of Mansion Song, in the way it navigates the unsteady balance of feminism and sexuality. Mansion Song lands a lot of painful blows, but Flesh? It’s just unbelievably nasty.
Which is largely thanks to lyrics which grab you roughly by the shoulders and shout ‘look!’. “Carve my snatch into a smile” is the one which gave me chills. But it’s full of little moments like that. The rest of the album is violence pitched against often-delicate music which sounds like it could have come from any time last century. Once you notice the lyrics – and it took me a couple of listens – once you start picking at that particular scab, Flesh is just pure tarry black nastiness.
And it’s achieved, again, through the interplay of sounds. The way the cheery “hey girls” cuts against that “oh flesh” muttered underneath it all. The way the ‘shhh’ of flesh is held, drawn out slowly between the teeth, matching the stretched shrillness of the horns midway through, which are actually painful if you’re listening at the right volume. The upbeat – at first glance – tone of the song and “pull it down, stick it up, just a little, babe”.
It’s the kind of song that draws a direct line between a suffragette throwing herself in front of a horse and Sex & The City: The Movie 2. Blood sacrifice/That dangerous brand of ‘we’re all the same, aren’t we?’ female empowerment touted by the creaky shopping/shagging marionettes. It’s not a pleasant song: it’s a song about the horror of pornography looking back at you, of forgotten ideals, of a long hard look in the mirror.