CD Review of Love by Flipper
Flipper: Love
Recommended if you like
The Dead Kennedys, Mudhoney, S.O.D.
MVD Audio
Flipper: Love

Reviewed by Michael Fortes


t doesn’t seem right that Flipper should still exist. Between losing two bass players to drug-related deaths, legal issues that kept their back catalog out of print for a good chunk of years and, well, being worn and old, Flipper should have faded away after their first reunion back in 1993.

Listening to them now, on their dual releases Love and Fight, the wear and tear is evident. Never a band to shy away from the slower, sludgy side of punk, Flipper comes closes to sounding like a geriatric Mudhoney, particularly on the studio disc Love. Which is all too appropriate, given that Mudhoney and their Seattle brethren in Nirvana have been open admirers of Flipper. Of course, having Nirvana’s Krist Noveselic on bass doesn’t hurt either. His forceful, deliberate attack recalls both Nirvana’s and Flipper’s glory days, in spite of the slower pace and less-chaotic vibe of these old trash-punk geezers.

It’s hard to discern much else beyond muted mania from lead singer Bruce Loose’s ragged delivery of these otherwise typically tongue-in-cheek downers, which itself seems another side-effect of wear and tear – losing dynamism. The best song is front-loaded not just as the opener on Love, but also as the third song on Fight – "Be Good, Child" is terse enough and sarcastically delivered to the point where it functions not just as a punk grandfather’s message to an immature little pipsqueak ("Don’t talk back and don’t hit your sister"), but a warning to an unhinged adult vagrant.

The wear is most apparent in the studio, but on the live disc Fight, Loose’s asides make up for any lost vigor ("Hi, we’re a band. Are you an audience?"), and the presence of old classics like "Sacrifice" and "Ha Ha Ha" at least provide a kind of reference point back to what the band sounded like in their prime. Even if spunkier versions exist, the memories of the old versions prop up the new ones.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lineup represented on Love and Fight is already a distant memory. Noveselic opted out of future touring after the shows from which Fight was drawn, leaving the band to recruit Rachel Thoele to take his place for the tour in support of these two albums. Given that this is Flipper and not the Mothers of Invention, it likely won’t make a huge difference, so long as Rachel can eventually follow Noveselic into that lucky club of musicians who walked away from Flipper alive. But another short era of Flipper history has already come to a close. While Love and Fight are solid as they are, it would have been nice for Noveselic to be more than just a footnote, and for the band to add another "Sex Bomb" to their canon for it. But then, if they didn’t at least partially stumble somewhere along the way, they wouldn’t exactly be Flipper now, would they?

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