Over at KNM Presents we are always very happy when some of our favourite bands pop a new song in our noise holes. And so you can imagine our glee when Fightmilk wove the delightfully melancholic, bittersweet journey that is If You Had a Sister.
The song gives the most delightful weight to Lily’s vocals, at first sweet and soulful, with the trademark sardonic Fightmilk lyrics that we’ve come to love. The song starts by taking you on a story, the musical element of the song adding weight to the vocals and bringing a slight sadness to verse. This is exactly the kind of music I imagine driving down a long road late at night.
When we go to the lyrics, there’s an obvious head tilt to the remarks casually tossed at women, and how, rightfully so, it doesn’t matter how many apologies are made – it doesn’t make it better or make it go away. There is a real feeling of sadness and regret in this song, that we can be guilty of supporting people who can say some pretty shitty things and how that makes us feel. I particularly loved “Everybody’s leaving, I had to listen to them say,” picturing the awkwardness of the situation – everyone remarking what you wish you could say to this person.
Speaking to Lily, it’s clear the song relates to the misplaced guilt that women can feel, excusing shitty behaviour, and how the expectations of women are placed squarely as a focal point of men’s actions, from absent mothers, dressing a certain way, and saying certain things – to the full bloodied hatred levelled at women. The song is tinged with the notion that it’s easier and better for us to be quiet and wish that things were different.
By now we’re feeling the full weight of the song – Lily’s vocals have moved away from a cautious quiet into a full bodied push and cry, and so the rest of the band pull away from the subtlty of the verse into the full throated angst rock of Fightmilk. Especially in the bridge we can hear each members touch and pull of the melody, jangling guitars, the mournful vocals whistfully in the background, and the grit of the drums and bass. Clearly, the song has been produced with a lot of love and care.
As we come to the roaring end of the track, we get pulled back into the bitter reality of the song, with the final thought of if you had a sister then you wouldn’t be this way. For me this is the stark beauty of this song. When you feel that the song is going to reach a triumphant fist pumping resolution, in which we move on with our heads held high…at the end of the day we’re still standing in that corner, shaking our heads and wondering what if.
In the era of #MeToo a lot of us have thought about previous experiences, conversations and how the situation could have been different. But really, is it our job to break it down to a level of basic empathy for someone to understand when it’s really not ok to be a dick? If You Had a Sister encapsulates this frustration and rage.
For me, this has been one of the delightful late surprises of the summer, a different sound for Fightmilk but one that definitely adds weight to their already stellar sound.