Following a spate of highly-praised live shows, Brighton seven-piece absurdists Flip Top Head announce themselves in style with their sprawling debut single ‘Seventh Bell Number’. Charging in armed with enough chops to send their musical polymath peers running scared, it makes sense that the group opt to label themselves as ‘orchestral cult rock’; a tag befitting of their chaotic style.
Signed to Blitzcat Records, Flip Top Head nestle neatly between labelmates such as Kyoto Kyoto and HAAL in as much as they know how to pack menace into a song and thrive off their own restless nature, but it’s this genre ambivalence that sees them push off in other directions from these acts. Throughout the song, the band leave a breadcrumb trail of multiple influences, guiding us through sections of jazz before swift detours into post-rock and shoegaze. The shifting time signatures dart about as trombones battle it out with a pummelling rhythm section, before all hell breaks loose and vocals soar over climactic walls of noise.
Lyrically, the band opt to keep things ambiguous as well, but the general sinister tone of the song carries over into its subject matter. Vocalist Bowie Bartlett seems to be channelling a story of deceit between two lovers, with the protagonist she assumes the role of struggling to escape the clutches of a lie-filled relationship. It wouldn’t be fitting for it to be relayed in such a straightforward manner though, and the images that are conjured are both vivid and cryptic.
It might all come off as jarring at first, but it becomes clear on repeat listens that Flip Top Head’s aim is to keep you guessing with how they’re going to progress through the song, or for that matter, in their general trajectory, and that’s what makes this a remarkable opening gambit from the group. If you ever needed a better reason to find love this Valentine’s Day, then you might as well fall head over heels for this band.
Words: Reuben Cross // Photo: Katie Foxley
‘Seventh Bell Number’ is out now via Blitzcat Records. Keep up to date with the band via Instagram.