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Baker's Dozen

True Pairings: Tom Fleming's 13 Favourite Albums
Ben Hewitt , September 25th, 2019 12:16

Former Wild Beast Tom Fleming, who's just released his excellent debut album as One True Pairing, picks the 13 records that shaped him, from Tool and Def Leppard to Scott Walker and Joanna Newsom

Photo by Jenna Foxton

“I think a lot of people are finding it quite dark,” grins Tom Fleming over his pint. “And, you know, I thought I’d made Born In The USA.” We’re in a North London pub called the W.B. Yeats – a watering hole with exactly the kind of name you’d expect to find a former Wild Beast drinking in. But Fleming’s first album on his own, self-titled under the name One True Pairing, has far less of those flamboyant flourishes. It’s a dark, frustrated subversion of traditional rock that doesn’t glorify the past as much as highlight its seemingly eternal recurrence, as if we’re destined to fall into the same old traps again and again: gritty neo-heartland anthems as an oppressive ouroboros.

“I think it’s an angry record, and one that’s of its time,” he says. “A lot of it is anti-nostalgia: it’s built on that Springsteeny heartland rock thing, and it’s about characters that I grew up with, but it’s about those things being perpetuated. All of those same things happening in my hometown, and happening on the streets where I live now … there’s a fatalism to it that I find hard to ignore.”

Fleming says there are still shoots of optimism in there as well, though, and jolts of energy to provide some hope, but admits its more abrasive, aggressive sound was a response to his old band’s sound and style. “Direct was the catch word, really,” he says. “I wanted to use as few metaphors as possible. I wanted it to be direct and about recognisable things and banal stuff because that’s almost what I’m interested in these days – the minutiae of people and the little things I don’t know about them. I think a lot of this record is a reaction to Wild Beasts. It’s quite deliberately ugly at times.”

Like any great Baker’s Dozen choices, his 13 picks cover a bit of everything: all-time favourites, more recent discoveries, teenage obsessions. “I’ve never thought as much about an interview ever,” he frets. “I’ve not tried to use this as a branding exercise.”

One True Pairings self-titled debut album is out now on Domino.

Click the image of Tom Fleming below to begin reading his Baker's Dozen.