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Repairs - Split EP Review: Repairs & Flogging a Dead One Horse Town

10 Oct 2019 // A review by Callum Wagstaff

Auckland pop-punk trio Repairs have released a split EP with Tauranga purveyors of grunty minimalism Flogging a Dead One Horse Town (or FADOHT for practicality's sake.) The two bands find common ground in the bedrock of noise. Distorted hums and static laden atmospheres carve out a listening experience that is at once awash with beautiful sonic abrasions and held down at the heel by catty post punk rhythms.

This EP was conceived by the bands as a way to support lathe cut legend Peter King by using his services to produce a 7" limited vinyl release. But there's an important twist in the tail of this split EP: each band did a cover version of one of the other’s tracks without having heard the original. With only the song’s name, lyrics and a couple of guitar chords, both bands had total creative freedom to interpret the track how they saw fit. This adds a whole other layer of fascination during the reviewing process.

We start with Repairs' original song Boxer, followed by FADOHT's cover version called The Boxer. Opening with a suspense building guitar line backed by room reflection, Boxer devolves into a chorus full of swell and swarming with great noise and bending strings. Repeating the galvanizing phrase: "all that's left to do is fight", Repairs set the tone for FADOHT to build on with their own interpretation.

As if cognizant of how the contrast will sound, FADOHT change the opening chord into a siren, painting a picture of the aftermath left by the incitement of Repairs rally. By the time that familiar "until all that's left to do is fight" refrain arrives, the context has been changed from a battle cry to an uneasy lament swirling inside undulating volume and static.

In the second leg the song Shits by FADOHT is covered by Repairs under the name Shirts. A diabolical tone and a spoken word verse give way to a stuttering pair of notes driving a hypnotic, fevered rhythm in Shits. It also contains the best line of the EP: "No wonder you're a bunch of hopeless pricks".

Where previously FADOHT took Repairs' Boxer and added a new layer of depth to the experience, Repairs cover has taken Shits and turned it completely on its head. They've somehow turned it into a pop punk bop complete with multiple members shouting lyrics and guitar harmonics giving it a totally different feel. The approach is super satisfying and a twist I couldn't have anticipated after hearing the original. There are even lyrics between Shits and Shirts that I can make out in one version but can't find at all in the other. It took me several listens to spot my favourite hopeless prick line in the cover and this made the whole EP feel like a more interactive experience. It felt like solving a puzzle.

The nature of this split EP provides a whole new layer to the way this music can be engaged with. Discovering what aspects of one song were interpreted in another, what parts were eschewed, how the tone of the songs differed and resembled each other. Particularly the challenge of spotting lyrics from one song present in another gave this shared work a level of replayablility that conventional albums don't have. Surprisingly the EP feels like a coherent piece of art, as if it was conceived to be this way from square one. I suspect that not just any pair of bands could pull this kind of cohesion off, which is a testament to the chemistry between the song crafting approaches of Repairs and Flogging a Dead One Horse Town.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Repairs / FADOHT
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Repairs! The Band!
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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