With Flesh, Viv Albertine—formerly of punk legends the Slits—has produced a spare 15-minute long EP worthy of more repeat listening than many of the year’s full length releases. In four songs, Albertine investigates love, hardly a new songwriting subject, and divulges some honest and straightforward words on it.
It could be argued that second track “I Don’t Believe in Love” is the album’s mission statement. Albertine paces the lyrics at a hypnotic tempo, championing the material—such as iron and gold—over the conceptual, such as God and, of course, love. The exposing of and sharing our flesh with another is the most concrete manifestation of love. However, our flesh also encases our thoughts and feelings, the concepts which Albertine denounces. It is this incongruity which supports the theory that the subject of love still has a long way to go before its exhausted.
If this assumption is way off, then no worries; on a transparent level, Flesh still has loads of merits. “If Love” is a swirl of hooky touches, from handclaps to interwoven backing vocals. “The False Heart” is another exercise in hypnotism, and opener “Never Come” has one of the bouncier choruses you’ll hear this year, as well as some smart lyrics to boot. Whether or not one wants to question what all this love business is or isn’t worth, a little Flesh can do no harm.