Fear of Men, from Brighton, England, have spent the past month touring the US in support of Mitski. Before this stretch ends, the dream pop outfit will headline Baby's All Right on Sunday night, supported by both Toronto's Weaves and local bedroom pop breakout Yohuna. Ahead of this night, the band curated a playlist entitled British Miserabilsm, a hauntingly accurate title given the current state of both Britain and the US's political climates. Read what the band has to say below.
British Miserabilism: 1979-1989
The 1980’s was a bleak decade for the UK, blighted by a Thatcher government that greeted it and ushered it out. Preceded by ‘The Winter of Discontent’, a period of national strikes from 1978-79 which saw refuse left on the streets, blockades on hospitals, and bodies unburied, the country slipped into economic recession in 1980 and by 1982 unemployment had reached it’s highest figure for 50 years. By 1986 it hadn’t got much better, resulting in widespread rioting in 1986. It was against this backdrop that the bands forming in art schools across the country were making music, and a new expression of British miserabilism was formed, a nihilist post-punk movement with a set of aesthetic principles that would be adopted by artists throughout the decade and beyond.
This playlist is an introduction to some of these artists. While Joy Division are the only band on this playlist to be considered a household name, many of the others are still influential today. ‘Hit’, by Section 25, was sampled by Kanye West on his Life of Pablo track ‘FML’, sonically and lyrically embodying the sense of disconnection in modern life that West explores throughout that record. In ‘Suicide Kiss’ by A.R. Kane you can hear an exploration of open spaces and drones that would influence post-rock bands such as Tortoise, and an impassioned vocal delivery that’s still heard in emo bands such as Joyce Manor today.
The last couple of weeks have seen a horrifying recall to a 1980’s political landscape, with British PM Theresa May and President-elect Donald Trump stating that they wish to have a relationship akin to Thatcher and Reagan’s. In that brief time when the shock is too recent to do anything but wallow, before we can collect ourselves and work out how we are going to get out of this mess, it’s worth remembering that out of misery can come beauty, and sometimes in the case of songs like these, solace.