Nathan Halpern, the singer of The Flesh, has a major identity crisis on the band’s eponymous album. When the occasion calls for it (also when it doesn’t), he channels Make Up’s Ian Svenonious, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, generic deep-voiced white-boy rap and the clipped, spittle-flicking Mike Patton. At least the band knows how to keep with one personality, as they settle into the post-hardcore trend-hop into dance-punk. The Flesh’s simple, uncluttered sound has the potential to yield something worthwhile, if the group had spent more time writing songs rather than searching Gabriella Zappia’s keyboard for sweet effects.
The combination, at best, borders on bland: both “Gallows” and “Cuts” desperately want to be Angel Dust-era Faith No More, but for all their bluster they might as well have come from C+C Music Factory. In spite of this, Halpern finds time for self-aggrandizement on three tracks.
Halpern’s lyrics are a toss-up between unintentionally hilarious (“The cookie jars of life/shut tighter than the night,” his inexplicable self-censor of “motherfucker” on “Sweet Defeat,” etc.) and ambiguously religious (“I want salvation/I am so salivating”). It leads me to think that these folks might be Christians, which isn’t a problem except on an aesthetic level. Spiritual education masquerading in the guise of hedonism feels false on both fronts. Obviously, I could be wrong. But if I’m not, The Flesh are dance-punk’s Stryper, and that’s definitely nothing to crow about.
Gern Blandsten: www.gerdblandsten.com