Published Sep 17, 2019Tom Fleming, formerly of Wild Beasts, has re-emerged following that group's dissolution as One True Pairing. His debut album is rooted in tales of desperation and shaped by his upbringing in northwest England, exploring notions of masculinity and survival within the current neoliberal era. Drawing from influences that range from Depeche Mode to Bruce Springsteen, he worked with producer Ben Hillier to create a record that focuses his songwriting and the raw nature of his unmistakable voice.
One True Pairing mixes bombast and intimate electronics, using synths, drum machines and guitar to investigate violence, channelling anger and a softness too. "King of the Rats" is one of the most affecting tracks, its burbling production underlying exposed lyrics that conclude in the refrain, "With all your flaws, you can do anything."
The pulse and restrained guitar of "Dawn at the Factory" distils a feeling of entrapment, Fleming deconstructing the machine of overwork and the cycle of working class poverty: "It's the same every night / You'd better get your facts right / Where the strip lights shine / I give you my life." These songs are at once specific, laying bare the motivations of Fleming's characters, yet reach further into analyzing overarching feelings of disillusionment and alienation.
One True Pairing is not an easy listening record, despite its pop structures. Fleming is stark in his observations, yet he has woven hope in amongst the despair, creating a body of work that serves as a way through difficult and tumultuous emotions. (Domino)