There’s a reason why heartbreak is the subject of so many songs, so many works of literature, so many poems, paintings and plays. Turns out it really does hurt. Formed when vocalist Will Taylor and drummer Jon Supran met at school, Flyte’s music had always tended to draw from external sources.
Pulling their emotional clout from ideas gleaned from observations, literature and film, the band’s songs presented a cast of characters that sat snugly within the lush harmonies and perfectly constructed melodies of the band’s 2017 debut, The Loved Ones.
However, when Taylor’s eight-year relationship disintegrated he found himself on the brink of a precipice he couldn't ignore as an artist. He recorded a 20-minute voice note warning himself to “buckle up and get ready for a really shit time.” It proved to be prescient. As the storm clouds gathered Taylor began writing, this time turning his gaze inwards, unflinchingly mapping out his internal landscape.
“I was always looking for things to distract me and make me feel better but it just wasn't doing the job. The only thing I had to make myself feel better was writing about it. It was just survival technique,” remembers Taylor. “Then suddenly it started to be like, 'God, okay, this is the material we're working with…Can we? Okay, let's go for it.’”
There’s blood on the tracks for sure, but what sets the songs on This Is Really Going To Hurt apart from all those other tales of woe out there is the depth and generosity with which Taylor looks at his own situation. Never self-pitying, if there’s ever a finger pointed in a lyric, it’s at the person singing it. Yes, the songs are wracked with pain and guilt, but they are also cut through with a great sense of empathy and understanding. Take the brutal self-criticism on Trying To Break Your Heart’s nod to Tommy James’ classic Crimson and Clover, or the gentle farewell of album closer Never Get To Heaven. Flyte may only be two albums in but there’s songwriting of remarkable emotional maturity here.
It was the honesty of the songs that dictated the warmth and intimacy of the arrangements and playing as the band fleshed them out together in LA. Working with producers Justin Raisen (Angel Olsen, Yves Tumour), Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver) and mixing engineer Ali Chant (Aldous Harding) the band turned Taylor’s sketches into living breathing things and made them soar in the process. Be it the wounded claustrophobia of opener Easy Tiger or the gnarled electricity that sparks off the Neil Young-like There’s A Woman - the emotion of the song would always lead the way.
“All the decisions we took were based around the fact that it's a very, very personal record,” notes Taylor. “It's about the end of a relationship and everything should be reflected in the emotion. The emotion dictates everything.”
Now a three-piece following the departure of keyboardist Sam Berridge (something addressed in I’ve Got A Girl’s theatrical pomp) Taylor, Supran and bassist Nic Hill worked with a telepathic understanding of one another, locking in with tumble and groove that at once feels loose as front porch sing-along and as tight as a session played by seasoned Muscle Shoal pros.
Listen to the oak-aged kick and strum of Love Is An Accident and you feel as if you’re sat right there in the room with them, yet even when they spread out and flex their muscles - the joyous march of Mistress America for instance or the skronking free jazz horn that send There’s A Woman home - nothing ever feels superfluous, the band always working to the golden rule that every instrument, every line had to bring its own melody. Even the band’s dazzling vocal harmonies are never showy or over the top, instead sitting just so in the mix. Indeed, over a lean ten tracks not a note here is out of place.
In its honesty and soul-saving beauty, This Is Really Going To Hurt is an album that at once feels timeless, like a well thumbed record dusted down off a shelf, but with a rawness and a voice that feels urgently contemporary. Pain is often the greatest source of inspiration, and Flyte have indeed crafted their best piece of work through knowing that love was always going to hurt.
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