Monday, July 11, 2011

#31 Flipper-Album: Generic Flipper


Artist: Flipper
Album: Album-Generic Flipper
Label: Subtarranean
Year: 1982

During the last few years I've been connected with the punk culture in New Jersey pretty closely. During that time I've learned of dozens of important bands from the 80s, 90s and today that I never knew of before. I've also found that there are tons of bands I never cared for that have a much more devout following than I ever realized. Flipper, however, remain one of those bands seems like nobody really cares about. In the last few years they almost did a reunion tour, had albums reissued, and have been surrounded by so many peers getting highlighted (Germs reunion show/Biopic; Minutemen documentary); and yet their stature seems as low as ever. Admired/adored by a few, but largely neglected by the larger punk community---even by the record collectors it seems. Which is really a shame, and I can't offer any insight as to WHY that is (perhaps just because they are slow?) but I can say that it is certainly one of the best punk records of the 1980s, nay, all-time, and it still sounds amazing today.
I could heap praise at the album with adjectives like nihilistic, challenging, and dark...but the album doesn't really sound like a dark masterpiece that was carefully constructed punk norms. I've always felt the album was more a product of heroin-addicts in the punk scene. But even if their intention wasn't to destroy punk conventions, it's still a masterpiece. Listen to the side 1 ending "(I Saw You) Shine" as it plods through 9-minutes. Drugged-out nihilism is in full swing. Will Shatter's lead vocals are hypnotic. And while often it's just that slow, eerie delivery that makes the album amazing, the lyrics are absolutely punk anthem writing 101.
"Ever" is the perfect call to arms for the band, with Bruce Loose screaming "Ever do nothing, and gain nothing from it?" among many other perfect lyrics. "Living For the Depression" similarly is of an anthemic nature, and the fastest/shortest song on the album. Its lyrics take to task the white-collar man of the 80s-taking vacations, shopping in supermarkets. It might seem trivial now, but the anger the song is delivered with is perfect. "Shed No Tears" similarly points out the contradictions of life, and "Life" is probably the most anthemic with a sing-along chorus.
But again, all of this catchiness is delivered in the most messed-up way possible. The guitars rarely play anything discernible, really just muddled noise. The bass and steady drum rhythms carry the melody of every song. It's an album so anti-punk that it's punk (or something)? The mixture of catchy melodies, disgusting instrumentation and nihilistic, slow songs somehow combine to make this one of the best albums in punk history.

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