I have a love hate relationship with female-fronted rock acts. All too many times, promoters showcase the lead singer as an object more than an artist while the opposite gender escapes that certain judgment. This is the frustrating and demeaning practice of a business that will claw and scrape for an extra buck under the mantra “sex sells”. And while rock and roll has always been about image, there is also something to be said for artistic integrity. There are tons of female-fronted bands that kick ass in ways many in the testosterone driven scene can only dream of. Working for Ear to the Ground has definitely helped us to see a positive upswing in the breaking of stereotypes and promotion.
Enter Manchester native Natalie Findlay who performs under the name Findlay. She elegantly walks the line between beauty and artistry in a way that legitimizes the female voice of rock. Her new album, Forgotten Pleasures (March 3rd) is a treat for anyone looking for an authentic, confident, and surprising mix of genres. The great talent in Findlay may be the ability to keep listeners guessing with each track. Her sound simply fails to fit nicely in a category, but masterfully breaks out of the rock norm in a refreshing way. Her music is deeply sexual and provocative, but in more of an empowering way than we often see with artists like her.
The new album was produced by titans of industry Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, The Libertines) and Flood (Depeche Mode, U2) who have a noticeable collaborative mark on the thirteen tracks. “Forgotten Pleasures is the cream of all the songs I’ve written in the last few years documenting my life,” states Findlay. “I wanted to make a record that connects with anyone else who’s experienced what it’s like to be young, fucked up, in love, out of love and demanding to make sense of a world that doesn’t always make sense.” The result of this is probably our favorite album of ’17 so far. The 25-year-old troubadour is sure to draw comparisons to PJ Harvey and Alison Mosshart, but make no mistake; she is one of a kind in her delivery and prose.
Album opener “Electric Bones” is a statement piece bouncing effortlessly between rock, pop, and electro. The lyrics are some of the coolest and most memorable we have heard recently. Findlay is able to write lyrics that are just abstract enough for you to grasp and enjoy, without getting too weird or out of reach in a David Lynch sort of way. “I’m just a girl with a microphone” she sings confidently in a way that listeners will be thankful for. The next track, “Waste My Time” shows some more soulful vocals amidst an electronic backdrop. Sure, Lana Del Rey could be mentioned here, but it treads it’s own ground and so does “Stuck in Your Shadow” which might remind you of another friend of our site In The Valley Below.
The standout track of the album won us over with a creative music video that sealed it for us. “Greasy Love” is one of those tracks where you wonder, “does this mean what I think it does?” With a deep urgency and explosive drumbeat, lyrics are spit out with venom and surefire cockiness. Fans of grunge and industrial will dig this track for sure, while listeners with more pop sensibilities will love the following track “Monomania” that shows just how talented Findlay is at being contemporary while not selling out. “Off & On” has been finding a lot of play and commercial success backed by a BMW ad campaign. This has a Tarantino style western sound before building into an incendiary rock track.
So this is the part of the review where I urge you to pick up her album. Honestly, it sells itself. One listen is sure to pierce hearts and eardrums in a way that is sure to be labeled rock’s next big thing. Forgotten Pleasures drops later this week.