New Fast Automatic Daffodils

  • New Fast Automatic Daffodils
  • Pigeonhole (Bel. Play It Again Sam) 1990  (Mute) 1991 
  • The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit/Dutch East India Trading) 1991 
  • Body Exit Mind (UK Mute) 1992  (Mute/Elektra) 1993 
  • Bong EP (Mute/Elektra) 1992 

Manchester’s New Fast Automatic Daffodils (the New FADS, for short) rode the early ’90s rave wave, gathering inspiration from the same Northern (Britain) and American soul as Happy Mondays. More than Ecstasy and baggy pants, however, the FADS are musical descendants of A Certain Ratio and the Fall. The quintet’s disjointed funk — which combines serious rhythm and a disgruntled indie attitude (witness a 1989 12-inch entitled “Music Is Shit”) — echoes various bands who hail from the region.

Pigeonhole (the American CD of which adds the title track as a bonus) is a collection of sloppily funky songs characterized by Dolan Hewison’s strummy new wave guitar and Andy Spearpoint’s uncompromisingly deep singing, which is similar in tone to the Wedding Present’s Dave Gedge. The lyrics are not nearly as important as percussion, bass and the overall groove of the song; like James Brown, Spearpoint is happy to riff on a particular theme to the point of nonsense. (See “Fishes Eyes” and “Penguins.”) “I Found Myself in Another Room,” another domestic add-on, is a throwdown jam in which blasts of rhythm pepper the flailing guitar and the careening vocals.

The Peel Sessions consists of two BBC studio appearances, from ’89 and ’90: Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” the album’s “Big,” “Part 4” and “Get Better” and three more. Bong combines the first two tracks (“Bong” and “It’s Not What You Know”) from the second album with three non-LP tracks, none of which are strikingly different.

Produced by Craig Leon, Body Exit Mind is similarly grooved to Pigeonhole, but the music is more focused and the lyrics more pointed, the inevitable progression of a band determined to make improvements. The guitar sound has gained stridency, although the band’s percussive aspects remain unchanged. Unlike Pigeonhole, however, the songs are cohesive and distinct rather than shapely jams; the band’s new direction is clearly displayed in the passionate guitar line of “Stockholm” and the lyrics of “It’s Not What You Know” (“I could get a good job if I tried / But what’s the point?”).

[Ira Robbins]