Florence Rey

Exactly how Britpop Anthem do you wanna get? Because I got you covered.

1994 (is it really that long ago?) I am flicking through the Sunday Times, when a story from France catches my eye. A young woman and her lover, Audry Maupin, had embarked on an inexplicable murder spree – leaving five people dead including Maupin himself. The woman’s name? Florence Rey.

Something about the story must have struck a chord with me, because this song tumbled out in response. After twenty four years, it’s hard to say what attracted me to the subject material. I guess it was probably the weirdly romantic nature of the couple’s relationship and their apparent determination to die together, chasing some kind of unknowable personal release. Around the same time, films like Natural Born Killers and Heavenly Creatures were exploring themes (fictional and real respectively) about doomed couples drawn to commit murder, so there was a brief moment of cultural resonance.

Anyway, we never recorded this song at the time, but it was one of two self-consciously ‘anthemic’ songs we deployed at gigs to close out the set, or to create a break from the breakneck lighthearted pop we were peddling at the time.

As such, it bears all the hallmarks of the kind of thing I was writing during this era: a very ‘classic’ set of chord changes that are fairly predictable with no twists or turns – just a very straightforward song, aimed directly at the football crowds.

At the time, I very much thought we had a crack at actually making it as a genuine band (we had little nibbles of interest from labels – including the fabled Creation Records) so I think I subconsciously wrote a lot of stuff with commercial appeal in mind. This would eventually drive the band to distraction because they wanted to be some kind of quirky experimental psychedelic act like The Beta Band, and all the while I was pumping out pop music in my own personal war against Cast and Embrace or whoever.

But – but! – there’s enough to this song for it to have remained in my heart ever since. Maybe every year or two I pick my way through it, and feel happy that I wrote it.

So when my cousin recently had a baby girl and told me he had chosen the name Florence Rae for her, it gave me the sudden impetus to put it down as a proper recording. Given its genesis in the mid 90s, it’s probably no surprise to find that the arrangement sounds very much of that era. I’m pleased as punch with it though – rolling bassline, flanged guitar, slide solo, close harmonies, generous lashings of reverb and all.

As an aside, I also have a plan to do an E.P. called “fallen women” – which conceptually this will fit very nicely into.