We love feeling as if we're a part of something, as if we're one of those spokes in a familial wheel that keeps turning round. It's a great feeling to be seated at a large table packed high and long with all kinds of food and drink items, with one dishing being passed, then the next, then the next - the din of the room rising to levels that make it sound like a horse race and a sword fight in the middle of a pissed off sea. The cover of The Fling's album, "When The Madhouses Appear," is a photograph that looks as if it could break out into a vaudeville act, a quail hunt, a brawl, an orgy or a food fight at any second. There's a man with an axe and a Jesus tattoo. There are all kinds of old lamps and candles. There are strawberries, pies, bottles of port or the other and what looks to be a picked apart bird. There's a naked baby, some vinyl and a waiter or two. The meal's been finished and most of the people surrounding the table look to be in a state of digestion - calm and introspective - but then there's still the matter of the man at the end of the table with the axe. We'd like to think he's harmless, but he seems omnipresent on "When The Madhouses Appear," though too, as if he's always glimpsed at, walking off in the distance somewhere. He's done nothing yet, but he's not going anywhere. The Fling seem to invite this edge of harm into what usually feels like an album of get-togethers, meals and bonfires. It's a record of conversations that have stuck in the craws of those listening and participating, striking on emotions and sentiments that just can't be shook.
The Long Beach, California, band of guitarist/singer Dustin Lovelis, bassist/singer Graham Lovelis, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Justin Roeland and drummer Justin Ivey matches its uncertainties up with soaring harmonies, giving them a strength in numbers - as if to suggest that if a group of five men can stick together and sing so prettily about the fear of death and leaving off, perhaps the benevolent one or benevolent few will hear them and so as much mercy as they have in their hands. It's that kind of a feeling, a sense that banding together, of gathering together for big meals and loving hard and loyally, will be enough to keep our heads from going gray too quicker and our lovers from leaving us by death or folly. They sing, "Everyone gets old," and it's as good of a worry as there is to want to spend every possible moment with as many of those voices and faces that we've collected as our favorites, as often as we can, for we could be suddenly faced with no one to dine and drink with. They continue later in the album, singing, "I'm up here with nothing left to see/So I wait for death to come, bury me/I'm up here with nothing left to do/So I wait for death to come and follow you," and we feel like we'd even take a meal with the guy holding the axe at that point. The lonely beggars can't be choosers.