Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Flesh War” by Total Control from the 2014 album Typical System on Iron Lung Records.
A lot of bands like to say they pull from classic 80s post-punk and new wave, but in recent years, there’s no record that has pulled it off quite like Total Control’s Typical System. The Australian post-punk band’s LP is an eclectic mixture of post-punk sounds, ranging from danceable, synth-heavy dance numbers to Public Image-type punk throw-downs. But at no point does the record ever feel like a grab bag effort - somehow, the Melbourne group creates continuity between the years that formed the better part of a decade and give us number after number of brilliant music.
“Flesh War” finds itself somewhere around the focal point of Typical System’s sound. The forward drum section could easily break into an arena-ready drive, but the cool synth lead tones the mood back from bloodlust, despite the song title. Dan Stewart’s vocals float like a lighter than mud Richard Butler, adding a subtle ominousness more than a melody to the already very melodic track. The instrumentation here is divine, with synth and synthesized strings leading the way forward while the drums and bass put wheels on the vehicle. “Flesh War” is a track that creeps up on you. At first, its effect seems to float into perspective, but by the time the four and a half minutes wrap up, the massive size is quite apparent. “Flesh War” is a memorable highlight from Typical System and a more than welcome introduction to Total Control for those who have yet to take the dive.
Grab “Flesh War” above and check out the rest of Total Control’s Typical System, out now on Seattle’s own Iron Lung Records. For the time being, Total Control aren’t touring outside Australia, but if you ever find yourself there, you’d better check out dates at their Bandcamp. For now, here’s the video for “Sweaty”, which appears on the Total Control/ Oh Sees Split 12″, released last year: