Little Fish have been building momentum on the back of some fairly high profile support slots with bands like Blondie, Hole and Alice in Chains (where I first encountered them) in preparation for the release of this, their debut album Baffled and Beat.
Given the Seattle sound of a large proportion of the bands they've toured with, Baffled and Beat contains only momentary flashes of grunge influence; Am I Crazy features a Cobain-esque howling scream and album opener Bang! Bang! Offers a ferocious grunge kick, albeit with a melodic streak the size of a truck running through its core.
Elsewhere on the album, Little Fish deliver some brilliant indie-pop. Recent single Darling Dear has a lazy guitar hook and a laid back vocal delivery with sultry lyrics like "my darling dear, come back to bed". The song builds and builds to an unexpected frantic finish with what can only be described as a squeal. It is a horrible noise, but you have to respect the length it goes on for, and just pray you never meet anyone capable of creating such a sound.
The album's real strengths are its slower, more introspective moments like the aforementioned Am I Crazy and Heroin Dance, a melancholy number, with heartfelt lyrics and a passionate delivery. Album closer Sorry State follows a similar vein with clean guitars and a massive chorus hook. It has to be said that without the big choruses this album would be one of the most miserable things you will have heard in a long time. Luck's Run Out is another downbeat song, its piano refrain recalling Radiohead's Karma Police. It is yet another gem on a strong album.
The album is not without fault though. Title track Baffled and Beat is more like two unfinished songs sandwiched together, and at times the album shows its influences a little too much; but these are minor points: when faced with the perfect pop of You, Me and the TV it is easy to let these things slide.
Overall, Little Fish have come out swinging with a confident and fun debut album to be proud of. It is good rock music with heart and soul. Vocalist Juju is one of the most engaging and passionate front women since pre-meltdown Courtney Love. Baffled and Beat cements Little Fish as definite ones to watch.