REVIEW: CRYWANK – Fist Me ’til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth

CRYWANKFist Me ’til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth
[Self-released // May 1st 2020 // Digital]

You know we are in very sad times when a band are denied their farewell tour because of a pandemic… Manchester, UK based strange folk duo Crywank have put out many releases over the past ten years, showcasing a raw and brutally honest take on indie folk music, always doing things their own way.

In what should have been an epilogue to one last world tour (now postponed until 2021), Crywank have self-released their magnum opus (one could say it’s a ludicrous title, but then it doesn’t outdo their legendary band name), Fist Me ’til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth for the price of a packet of crisps on their own Bandcamp store. Describing the record on their own Facebook page, Fist… is “largely about how the band has affected our friendship and how our friendship has affected the band.” An air of sadness, inner turmoil and artistic defeat hangs its shadow over the album; “there are numerous reasons why we are breaking up and a lot of the more personal reasons are covered on this album… The lack of support we have received from the industry… Pride you have in your work can quickly become overshadowed by the hopelessness of trying to share it.”

It’s darkly fitting that the duo of James Clayton and Dan Watson channelling the reasons why they should no longer be in a band together any more would lead to them creating their most ambitious and heartfelt masterwork in their discography. Fist… is by far their most accomplished work in terms of sound, ideas, writing and scope. It’s their longest album by far, clocking in at nearly an hour over 27 tracks. The album is loosely divided into two halves where each member takes a lead vocal role per half, with the opening eight track suite, ‘I Love You But I’ve Chosen Me’ kicking off the first half. This suite is instantly accessible, reminiscent of Feels-era Animal Collective combined with the blunt emotional delivery of a Neutral Milk Hotel song. Twiddling acoustic guitars, scuffling drums and stream of consciousness lyrics immediately hit you on a cerebral level, delivered with a whiff of beat poetry. Instrumentally, the suite sounds rather heavenly and pleasant to the ears, yet unable to relax as the vocals and lyrics, though sounding wonderful, emote a pained anxiousness. Though divided into eight movements, this suite demands to be listened to in one fell swoop, making for the most satisfying part of the album.

After such a magnificently strong opening half to the record, things take a more uncomfortable turn rather quickly after this, starting with ‘Flower In Hand’, with it’s droning guitar clang paired with distorted, manic and squawked vocals, sounding more like something you’d hear on an early PIL record. Many of the tracks on the second half of the album tend to average a minute in length, and feel like wild half-baked songs and experiments. ‘The Yolk That Fell Out’ and the ridiculous ‘A Fart At Night Resets the Balance’ would happily exist in the world of The Residents or Captain Beefheart, whilst an awkwardly placed five minute industrial noise interlude, ‘Wellington Wisp’ feels like the album has given up and died altogether, only redeemed by the brittle and beautiful closing track, ‘Deep Down I’m Really Mark Smith’ (presumably a nod to fellow Mancunian legend and The Fall vocalist), which brings the album – and indeed Crywank – full circle.

Fist… is very much a record of two very distinct halves and upon the first initial listen or two, one wonders why these weren’t released as two separate records. The two divides of the album are remarkably different in sound and approach, with the former sounding like the most sonically accomplished that Crywank have ever been, before descending into a tonally harsh and imaginatively wild and fractured second half. And yet pairing all of this into one journey only goes further to reinforce what the record is about in the first place… A fracturing of friendship and a mutual divide of a pair of musicians.

Fist Me ’til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth is a very challenging record that is brutal, both sonically and emotionally. Whilst it isn’t always a pleasing listen, it’s certainly always an interesting one that commands your attention, From its crude cover art to its schizophrenic structure, Fist… delivers exactly what the band set out to do. It’s only bittersweet that upon calling a close on ten years of making music together, Crywank would leave us with their most accomplished work to date.

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Fist Me ’til Your Hand Comes Out My Mouth is available now.

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