Saturday, June 2, 2018

Punching Up: A Review Of The Debut Full-Length Record From D.C.'s Flasher

It's almost a shame that so much attention will be paid to where the 3 members of Flasher come from. Sure, it bears some attention that Taylor Mulitz is from Priests, and that Daniel Saperstein is from Bless, and drummer Emma Barker is from Big Hush. But, really, the music on Flasher's debut full-length record, Constant Image, out Friday on Domino, is so fresh that it seems better to approach this material without any preconceived ideas of what one's going to find here, or how this is gonna fit in with the grand tradition of this city's rich musical history.

Opening cuts "Go" and "Pressure" offer up the sort of throbbing electro-rock one typically seeks out on records from British bands from some 4 decades ago, while the bright lead single "Skim Milk" soars on a similar wash of percussion and keyboards even as the thrust of the tune suggests the propulsive work of D.C.-area forebears like Q And Not U, or Romania. The slower "Harsh Light" is elegant, equal parts old O.M.D. and "Behind The Wheel"-era Depeche Mode, while "Punching Up" recalls the brand of sinister electronica pioneers like Gary Numan once made their life's work. If the soundscapes on these more deliberate numbers make these tracks on Constant Image more slow-burners, they remain proof of the talents of these 3 players, the moods here modulated via fuzzy bass-work, or cavernous drumming, or the sharp sparks of a guitar hook, or washes of keyboards, or -- in the case of the sinister strut of "Business Unusual" -- the squawk of a saxophone, this time played here by D.C. music legend Mark Cisneros (Des Demonas, Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds, Deathfix).

One would be correct in finding parallels here on Constant Image to those early New Order records, when the band was defining a new music, and perhaps unconsciously bridging 2 musical eras, as it seems as if Flasher is nearly doing the same, wedding up the current electro-clash-style of punk with earlier forms from the capital's musical past. And yet, so much of Constant Image is so good that one remains a bit startled at how vital this sounds, and how it seems as if Flasher just appeared out of the blue, without any connection, or debt owed, to any musical forebear here. Of course, those of us in the D.C. area know that Flasher has been gigging a lot over the course of the last few years, so the sound here on Constant Image is the refinement of the band's attack, a modern, thoroughly American spin on the template crafted by a bunch of moody misfits in Manchester some half-century ago, bursts of Magazine, or Joy Division, or Buzzcocks bobbing to the surface here in the sea of hooks on this record.

Constant Image will be out on Friday via Domino.

More details on Flasher via the link below, or via their official Facebook page.

[Photo: Jen Dessinger]