London-based band Flyte have been building a strong following for their melodic indie pop. Adelaide Crosby makes the case for why they ought to be your next musical obsession.
I would like to think that my discovery of Flyte was designed. While reading Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited, I was drawn to the charming and undoubtedly doomed Sebastian Flyte, the band’s namesake. Remarking on the surname’s potential, I took to Spotify to determine whether the glorious moniker was associated with an existing artist. The London-based band, comprised of Will Taylor, Jon Supran, and Nick Hill, has held a special place in my musical life ever since.
In many ways, the name is a fitting one. Titles like ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Annie and Alistair’ off their 2017 record The Loved Ones verge on psychedelic, consumed in a dreamlike world of invented characters and cryptic lyrics. These relics to an immortalized British youth parallel the infantile realm of Waugh’s creation. While some lushness is preserved, Flyte’s two 2020 releases feel indicative of what’s to come: a departure from earlier albums and EP’s in pacing, tone, and content. Perhaps difficult for front man Taylor, raised by English teachers, both ‘Losing You’ and ‘Easy Tiger’ draw, decidedly, from life, dealing in an immediate sense with the end of his own relationship. ‘Currently breakup music,’ the band’s Instagram bio warns.
A ghostly undercurrent populates the opening bars of ‘Easy Tiger.’ Moderately bitter, outwardly directed verses and mournful choruses follow, exquisitely melding the emotions that come with loss of love in an understated eulogy. There is a certain sense of comfort in suffering expressed in ‘Losing You. ‘And you were wearing that red dress/ when you took him upstairs/ the one I bought you in New York/ before you made this mess,’ Taylor sings with jarring simplicity. Alive here is both the perpetual ache of loss and the forced bitterness of a narrator who cannot quite grow accustomed to ‘losing’ the object of their love. Nowhere is this heartbreaking liminal state more tangible than on the song’s acoustic demo, released several weeks after the original. Fraught with vulnerability, with its stripped-down quality and eerie harmonies, this version is Flyte at their best. If ‘Easy Tiger’ is a play at spite, ‘Losing You’ is an injured plea. ‘Just tell me you want me/ I don’t care if it’s true/ ‘cause I don’t think I’ll get used to losing you.’ Despite a dreamy music video (helmed by Bait director Mark Jenkin) weaving together Jean-Luc Godard-esque black and white footage and hazy clips of the band, a live session filmed under a covering of trees is a better testament to Flyte’s innate charm.
In a time as riddled with uncertainty as these past months have been, there is an undeniable allure to art rooted in nostalgia. Originally a quartet, the deceptively fresh-faced and floppy-haired group has received many comparisons to the Beatles and cited their influences in an interview with Clash magazine as ranging from Radiohead to Joni Mitchell. It is evident that they are conscious of their predecessors, tending to look back for inspiration rather than adhering to any particular fashion of the day. Fans of the band are also privy to the benefits of a comparatively small, cult following, allowing for a spontaneous open-air concert at Hampstead Heath and visits to London doorsteps in an overwhelmingly gig-less summer. As busking on Portobello Road was a Flyte staple at their inception, such performances seem only fitting.
Classicism in both aesthetics and sound (think linen button-ups and immaculate, Simon and Garfunkel-adjacent harmonies) has done little to impede their presence on social media, with Taylor streaming weekly concerts during lockdown in the UK. If ever it was possible to cultivate intimacy in a livestream, he has done it, playing unfinished songs and old releases interspersed with anecdotes – all in front of a bedsheet. The unifying nature of isolation, so present in the cultural zeitgeist of today, is all the more alive in the band’s current form. We are invited to lament solitude whilst acknowledging it as a catalyst for art.