The Fig Mints (of Your Imagination) – Pretend to be Proud

Pretend to be Proud cover art


Feels like a long while since anything new issued from planet Fig Mints (of Your Imagination), so it’s always welcome to hear from Bobby Rogan, master of self-deprecating philosophic wordsmithery and psychedelic-punk guitar riffs. After checking, I see we got two full albums in May 2009 – the cacophonous hazy highly-strung romp that was “Say Okay” and the much looser, rapidly recorded “Songs For My Friends and Those Girls”, so yip, this 5-track EP “Pretend To Be Proud”, a taster of an imminent full-length record, is like a bus bang on schedule on a shitty rainy day.

One of these days I’m going to get to describe a record as a “return to form”, but it’s never going to be anything by THE Fig Mints (yes, we noticed the addition of the “THE”… a nod to the greats of the 1960s? Acceptance of minor cult musical celebrity? Or just because it’s got a ring to it? Who knows?) But every The Fig Mints record I’ve ever heard has been a return to form from from. Consistency is the name of the game, a steady progression, honing the art of self-expression/self-exploration in the shape of noisy heartfelt songs. You’ve got to love everything that has ever come out of Bobby’s brain and onto the airwaves, for its honesty, and its bravado, and it undeniably awesome guitar riffs. But we’ll get to them in a couple of paragraphs…
“Pretend…” is five more songs of the same. Like your big sister’s lovable, drunk, and probably misunderstood punk boyfriend setting up his band in your parent’s front room while they’re out for the night. Each track is a little giant in its own right, from the show- opening coolly-titled “Self-Inflicted Psychological Abuse” (an opening salvo so unruly that if it had legs it would likely get arrested for drunk and disorderly), right through to the closing rough diamond that is “My Healing Heart”, arguably the simplest of all five songs and loaded up with your habitual Fig Mintroverted poignancy, words like “I find it hard to celebrate/When I ain’t got no choice”.
Elsewhere, this record is as much about the previously mentioned guitar licks as the to-be-expected quality lyrical musings. Bobby is easily one of my all-time favourite guitar shamans, capable of flailing and fingering out super-catchy melodies in equal measures. If anything, “Pretend…” is arguably the best collection of guitar tracks in the Fig Mints catalogue, the combination of acoustic and electric working like black magic in the eardrums. “Out With the Shut-Ins” is as close as you’ll get to pop at this party. “Like The Literati” was my favourite track after one listen and could easily climb up into my Top 5 Fig Mints songs of all time given a few more spins (for the record these are currently: “Undead Idea Mines”, “Don’t Get Me Wrong”, “Garage Sale Season”, “Like Brownish Skies”, and “Three Cheers for Good Cheer”). Finally you’ve got “Relieved of Hope and Trust” – a blistering buzzy up-tempo number, closed out with a top drawer guitar solo.
Actually, the more I think about it, and the more I listen, the better this EP gets. It might not have any Top 5 tunes on it, but the five songs it does have could all easily jostle for positions 6 through to 10, and considering the size of the back catalogue, that’s no mean feat. If the full album is anything like this, then it’s something to seriously look forward to. As much as Disney taking on Star Wars? Well, at least with Bobby, you know what you’re going to get and it’s going to be good.
So there you have it: “Pretend To Be Proud”, less than fifteen minutes where your parent’s front room gets torn to pieces, several neighbours who have come over to complain about the noise suddenly get an attack of introspection, a television gets thrown through a ground floor window and ends up on the lawn, the police get called, your sister is crying, and The Fig Mints stumble off into the night, collapsing in a leafy alleyway, laughing at the sheer dumb fuck of it all.