1. Goodbye Blue Monday
2. Children of Atomic Bomb
3. Alexander the Great
6. The Sanctuary of Lost Souls
Indie rock n’ roll gets a mainline shock of funk flair in Man is Man’s Worst Enemy, the maiden EP release from international quartet Flying Daggers.
With a band name ripped from a 2004 Mandarin film, it’s no surprise that Flying Daggers’ work is peppered with references to South (East) Asia. Being signed to an Italian label and based in Hong Kong, this EP offers the requisite amount of genre and theme blending.
Instrumentally, their talent is undeniable; lyrically, they offer moments of confusion. The result is a loosely-hewn collection of discrete tracks, each offering impressive moments of technical prowess but as a collection provide little in the way of unified sentiment or affect.
Goodbye Blue Monday is the musical equivalent to teen romp in the sheets. Riff-laden and tonally evocative of British indie act The Arctic Monkeys, this track is a nod to the 80s tradition of girls, girls, girls, setting the listener up to expect more of the same. By amping up the bass, the heady lyrics are tempered by a consistent groove which is so fresh that it almost distracts from the distinctly juvenile chorus, which purrs “I wanna f*ck all night and listen to The Doors”. Perhaps by invoking the ghost of Jim Morrison, Flying Daggers hoped to shroud themselves in mystery. Unfortunately it didn’t quite hit the mark, and makes for a somewhat weak start to the EP.
Talk about a topic change- on the back of this is the atmospheric and possibly historical Children of Atomic Bomb. Ambient guitars adopt a sci-fi countenance, with staccato notes being plucked in a rising and falling scale to cleverly mimic the digital bleeping of a spacecraft. Despite the instrumental futurism, the lyrics and indeed the music video suggest that Flying Daggers are here addressing the horrors of Hiroshima.
Alexander the Great starts strong, featuring a smooth bass lick overlaid by distorted “talking” guitars, something about it promising an edge of sophistication. The unusual song structure leaves the listener yearning for a chorus to hum along to- but again, Flying Daggers seem to ask us to expect the completely unexpected.
By this point in the EP, the listener has far more questions than answers- which proves Blind, a minute-long musical and spoken word interlude, a welcome break. Finally, Flying Daggers’ lyrics dig deeper than simply musing on sex, history, and masculine bravado; “I couldn’t handle it / I was left alone, face to face with my thoughts… / Man is man’s worst enemy”. Distinct flavours of grunge and goth permeate this brief track, signposted by deep rumbling vocals, scuzzy guitars, and that sludgy, sublime drawl of experimentalism. Don’t be put off by its brevity- Blind must be Flying Daggers’ most tasteful work on the record
A refreshing departure from previous songs, penultimate track Rats incorporates touches of synth and a punk rock aggression. The vocals play second fiddle here, with the lyrics being drowned out by the myriad layers draped over them. This is in no way a bad thing, however, as Rats features some of the most artful musicianship on the whole EP- including a scorching solo before the final chorus.
A bluesy bass line ushers us into Sanctuary of Lost Souls, a song which boasts swaggering swing charm from the get go. The song is expertly mixed, boosting the humble bass guitar’s role from supporting to co-star as its rhythmic cadence remains a constant driving force, mimicking and serving as the urgent thrum of a heartbeat. Matt Suchecki’s trebly vocals offer a refreshing 80s Brit Pop flavour to the Hong Kong indie scene, at times echoing the melancholic richness of Joy Division’s late Ian Curtis.
Existential yet erratic, Sanctuary… is the perfect plenary for a jam-packed EP. “The sun also rises in Lan Kwai Fong,” it croons, invoking the literary works of Hemingway as they comment on the social dissonance and displacement experienced by all who come to Hong Kong seeking bright city lights and stay long enough to watch them lose their lustre.
Flying Daggers’ Man is Man’s Worst Enemy is available for streaming now on all major platforms*.
By Jasmine Gould-Wilson
*Including: Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp