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STOOR - Fleam

  by John Clarkson

published: 4 / 7 / 2019

STOOR - Fleam
Label: Stereogram Recordings
Format: CD


Challenging but compelling and distinctive second album from Dundee-based alternative rock group STOOR

STOOR inhabit their own world musically, which falls somewhere between the power rock of Cream and the skewed angularity of Devo and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The Dundonian four-piece has played together since the 1990s, but took almost twenty years before self-releasing in 2015 and then again a few months later on the ever excellent Edinburgh-based label Stereogram Recordings (The Cathode Ray, the Band of Holy Joy, James King and the Lone Wolves and the Eastern Swell) its eponymous debut album. Their second album ‘Fleam’ has come together a lot more quickly, taking just four years, but like its predecessor features some songs that they have been playing over the past two decades. With such a long time to hone and fine tune them, it is perhaps not a surprise that STOOR sound so muscular and taut. ‘Fleam’ opens with an instrumental, ‘Theme from STOOR’, which sets the tone for much of what is to follow with its haemorrhaging, high volume guitars. Scott McKinlay’s drum beats meanwhile sound like he is hitting them with a sledgehammer or the ancient Anglo-Saxon axe used for bloodletting which gives the album its title. The lyrics when they come are both off-kilter and dark, providing a bleak picture of humanity in which we rip each off mercilessly and other people’s misfortunes become the means of our gratification. ‘Pain’ slam blasts the pharmaceutical industry for pushing its pills on its clientele whether they are needed or not (“Come near, come close/We feel your pain/ Come near, come close/We need your pain/We’ll take the strain/You know it’s gain”). The uncomfortable ‘Atrocities’ finds singer Stef Murray wallowing in disaster (“Show me atrocities/Dig so much deeper and pull me out of ease”), while ‘Unlike Them’ lambasts Western foreign policy (“We are a bomb/We are a missile/We target evil/We kill the bad”). ‘Fleam’ concludes with ‘Chivers’, which is the closest with its shimmering guitars STOOR come to a pop song, although it is a warped form of pop song. “Come and see/Incinerate my books/Tear a page from my soul/Erase me from this world,” sings Stef with surprising jocularity, but it is clear that something terrible has just happened (“The blood is seeping from the tailgate of the refrigerated lorry.” Listening to ‘Fleam’ is like listening to the Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ for the first time. It is so intense, so unlike anything else that it is difficult to take it all in initially, but, never without an underscore of melody and built around a deep sense of morality, it becomes with each new listening steadily more compelling. Without doubt, 'Fleam'is one of the most unusual and distinctive releases of the year.

Track Listing:-
1 Stoor Theme
2 Pain
3 Lovebombing
4 The Dig
5 Ark
6 Atrocities
7 Agags Groove
8 Founding Fathers
9 Unlike Them
10 Chivers

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STOOR (2016)
Unusual but distinctive debut album from elusive Dundee-based alternative rock outfit, STOOR

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