The Nightingales were formed in 1979 from the ashes of Birmingham punks, The Prefects. After enjoying cult status in the early eighties and being championed by the one and only John Peel, they had basically disbanded until reforming in 2004 with Lloyd being joined by original Prefects guitarist Alan Apperley. In the past, the band’s line up has been pretty fluid but always based around vocalist (and lyricist) Robert Lloyd; the line up now stands as Lloyd, Apperley, bassist Andreas Schmid (Faust studio engineer) and drummer Fliss Kitson (Violet Violet).
Like most classic punk bands, The Nightingales are prolific, having released five 7" vinyl singles, a 10" EP and five studio albums (plus two live albums) since reforming. By no means diluting their output, with songs like bullets, For Fucks Sake fires twelve tracks at you in less than forty minutes.
Opening song ‘Bullet for Gove’ sets the tone with under two minutes of jerky rhythm and twisting guitar riffs, shouted backing vocals and Lloyd’s urgent Nick Cave-like bassy lead melodies. The album swaggers along with more noise-out than rock-out moments, pushing it further towards an alternative and experimental rock sound than 100% punk. Kitson’s machinegun drums create a formidable backdrop, especially on ‘Bag Of Nerves’ and ‘The Abstract Dad’.
The sense of humour and elements of social commentary in Lloyd’s lyrics show his punk roots coming through, while the tripping timings and ever-changing tone of the guitar riffs suggest a more modern and experimental vibe. The short and sweet songs are fantastic; from the anti-surf-rock of ‘The Abstract Dad’ to the dark spin on sixties pop of ‘Thick and Thin’, but when the band give themselves space to breathe on tracks like the military referencing ‘His Family Has Been Informed’, and the epic ‘Dumb and Drummer’ they conjure a power and determination that the shorter tracks don’t get a chance to provide.
There is a lot of variation on the album, with influences being drawn from far and wide, including the psychedelic Jefferson Airplane-esque ‘Goodmorning and Goodbye’. It leads to an amazing juxtaposition of songs, and really hammers home just how much The Nightingales write exactly what they want.
It was never going to be an album for everyone, but whether it’s the lyrics or the legacy that brings you to For Fucks Sake, it’s an interesting cocktail of ideas that delivers on its promise: “Having been dumped by their fourth consecutive label, following the release of one album each, the group are self releasing the new LP on their own terms.”