Well this is f*cking marvellous. I have no idea who Black Fly is. The standard Google search reveals lots of references to two winged insects, a hip-hop artist from about 5 years ago and various other companies and brands, but nothing of this solo artist who I’m told makes music from his bedroom in the backwoods of Vermont. However, despite little context to find let me try and give you some.
I Don’t Know is Black Fly’s debut song. As I said it’s f*cking marvellous. Why? Because it’s rather unique. There’s a lot of synth pop that flows through these pages, but most of it features vocals that are in some way glossy and crystal. Black Fly isn’t. His voice is huskily nodular, slightly slurred and sleepy, like a modern-day Pete Doherty of The Libertines or Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs, but with real soul and beauty. It’s as if an indie rock singer has stumbled into the wrong room and come out with a keyboard under his arm rather than a guitar. It’s a wonderful contrast.
You’ll find virtually all of the websites and blogs that have featured this song so far describing it as gothic. I’m not so sure about that as a categorisation. I don’t hear the eerie dark despair I would expect to find in something categorised as gothic, although the lyrics, which talk of ‘nasty things you do’, ‘violence’ and ‘cancer’ certainly don’t equate with partying all night long in da club. But what I hear musically is skin-prickling radiance and moments of tenderness, particularly when Black Fly sings “you can never take our memories” and the song bursts into a rainbow of 80’s styled tension building electronics.
I Don't Know was mixed by David Tolomei (Beach House, Dirty Projectors and most tellingly Future Islands, who I can see some similarity with in terms of the unusual vocal / electronic mix). An intriguingly good debut.
Black Fly - I Don't Know