Boston’s Native Tongue is a gem of post-punk underground history in the area. When you think about how many post-punk bands that have come along since Native Tongue disbanded in 1982, it is remarkable to listen back now to how forward leaning their sound was when they released “Yowl.” Lee Leffler and Michael Frackleton, two of the original members, are currently what make up the band Dream of a Man in a Top Hat who have been releasing music since summer of 2020. Their forward leaning post-punk spirit continues to drive their unique and experimental sound today. They just released a new single on September 23rd, entitled, “Opposite Poles.”
The post-punk spirit may be what drives the inspiration, but today’s sound is an accumulation of influences assembled with an abandonment of genre limitations, or any notions of “marketability” holding back the creative process. “Opposite Poles” is a prime example, being heavily psychedelic, ambient, and alternative rock sounding while still encompassing post-punk roots and at least by my ear, even sounding Britpop at times. It vibes like the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” meets the Clash, meets the Gorillaz.
This single is number six of a slew of singles the band has been releasing this year. Working remotely, the collaborative effort seems to be distributed quite equally even though I doubt the band approaches the creative process that rigidly with all that in mind. Leffler plays guitar and keyboards, Frackleton scores drum and bass, as well as keyboards too, and both take part in vocals and lyrics. As the story goes, this song began as a late night guitar riff by Leffler, modeled to a rudimentary beat, that was sent over to Freckleton for additional drums, bass and vocals. Once back in the hands of Leffler, a few adjustments to arrangement were made before mixing. In this song, Frackleton is primary lyricist and vocalist. The lyrics are at times cryptic and a bit mysterious, lending to the overall psychedelia. A bit of word play is thrown in to allow the mind to wander:
Our differences are the sameLyrics from “Opposite Poles”
And nobody is to blame
Shame it’s such a shame
Even the song’s originator was left to speculate lyrically:
I wish I could tell you what this song is really about but I haven’t got a clue – I only have theories. Michael wrote the words and sang them (in his “vocal booth” which resembles a homemade sarcophagus but is actually quite comfortable). I did not ask nor did he offer the true meaning of the lyrics and that is always good enough for me.Lee Leffler on the true meaning of “Opposite Poles”
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