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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


Def Leppard – Hysteria

I got into this around the time we made Boy King, when were were looking at that sunset strip glamour, and rock records put together as if they were pop records, with processed guitar sounds and big melodies. I think subsequently I like Pyromania a bit better, but Hysteria is the one where I think, ‘I can’t believe they did this’: two years to make it, a drummer with one arm, a million guitar tracks. Some of the lyrics are just … you can’t believe they committed to it, like on ‘Women’. “Women, women, lots of pretty women/ Men, men, they can’t live without them.” And it’s a great song, but... what is that about? I don’t really know, but the sonics and evocation of it all feels amazing. It’s all very widescreen, just the sound of these lads from Sheffield in LA.

I think it’s also my constant impulse to fly in the face of critical opinion – ‘I’m only going to listen to Def Leppard, and what?’ – but I must stress that I like it completely unironically. I was familiar with them when I was younger but I’d have thought they were far too uncool – if I was into Nirvana, this was the enemy. But it’s infinitely better put together than contemporaries like Poison or Mötley Crüe, and with better songs. Maybe one of the things that gives it its pull is that it’s them on top of the world, and they’ve come through a lot of shit to make it. In truth, I think the songs are just really good. They’re not intellectual treatises or beautiful love songs, but real bangers from start to finish.