It’s hard to believe the gregarious, tattooed pop star G Flip ever made music that could be described as ‘timid’. But that’s how their new album ‘Drummer’ makes their earlier work sound. A booming, big-hearted record, ‘Drummer’ showcases a singer-songwriter (and stick-wielder) in their element. You’re hearing G Flip, loud and proud.
G Flip (who was born Georgia Flipo, and now goes by G) has played drums since they were nine, taking lessons at 12 from a musician named Jenny Morrish who not only taught Flipo how to smack the skins, but helped them on the road towards self-realisation: Flipo, who is queer and non-binary, has called the late Morrish “the first person who seemed just like me”. Through Morrish, they also learned how to “separate” their voice from their body so they could become a singing drummer. Flipo went on to work as a session drummer and play in bands of all stripes, and after their last group Empra disbanded in 2016, began working on their own music. In 2018, they released their breakout debut single ‘About You’ – and the rest is history.
Flipo has become more than just a drummer – they’re a producer who plays guitar, bass, keys and sundry other instruments across the album; they rip their first guitar solo on the single ‘Be Your Man’ – but the drums, so liberatory for them in their youth, remain inextricable from how their approach to music-making. For this “pop album from the drummer’s perspective”, as Flipo has called it, songs were crafted with specific drum ideas, grooves and even references in mind: ‘Be Your Man’ swaggers forth with a doo-wop-inspired 6/8 time signature, while ‘Didn’t Mean To’ is an homage to Toto’s Jeff Porcaro and the ‘Rosanna’ shuffle.
But what’s most striking about ‘Drummer’ is how Flipo wields the sheer visceral power of drumming. It’s unsurprising when you remember the record is a reaction to Flipo’s experience of the digitalised music-industry machine in Los Angeles (where the Melbourne native moved in 2021), which paired them with producers in studios where there was hardly an instrument to be seen.
Flipo makes a point to go beast mode from the off; opener ‘7 Days’ starts modest with entry-level snare rolls but culminates with thunderous drumming and crunchy guitar. On break-up song ‘The Worst Person Alive’, Flipo ratchets sparkling, radio-ready pop-rock up to glorious, Springsteenian proportions, pushing their rasp to the edge as they belt about being made the villain of their ex’s story.
‘Drummer’ – which, in a natural progression from Flipo’s bedroom-musician roots, was mostly produced and recorded at their home in LA – sounds larger than life, its massive production and impeccable polish rendering their 2019 debut album ‘About Us’ demure by comparison. One of the starkest differences is in Flipo’s voice, an instrument they’ve been pushing the limits of for some time now (hear 2020 single ‘You & I’ and the bellowed chorus on 2022 collab with Lauren Sanderson, ‘Gay 4 Me’). The booming drums, oh-oh-ohs and squealing guitars of ‘Rough’ sound stadium-sized even through ordinary speakers, and Flipo digs deep for the vocal theatrics to match. They turn it up to 11 on ‘Good Enough’, where shredding their vocal cords is the only way to express the crippling insecurity felt before a love they think they don’t deserve.
Through charisma and sheer force of will, Flipo sells these songs, even the clunkier lines. ‘Rough’’s choruses are a little, well, rough (“Forgot the safe word for our love… I thought that we established our trust”). On ‘Be Your Man’ – a dedication to partner Chrishell Stause – their supercharged declaration of “I understand” stumbles nearly immediately: “... ’cause I get you emotionally”. ‘Love Hurts’ is a bit of a slog, especially when Flipo sings about a world “full of pain prevention” (which they then rhyme with “apprehension”) and calls Adderall and alcohol an “unhealthy remedy” for their heartsickness.
Flipo spends most of ‘Drummer’ dwelling on matters of the heart, but leaves room for the jokier sides of their personality. Between the squelchy synths and deliriously mixed metaphors, the horny, edibles-inspired ‘Baked’ – where Flipo edges away from drummer and closer to beatmaker – is a nice mid-tracklist break from the emotional intensity. The bristly ‘Kevin’ is a middle finger to the ignorant know-it-alls in Flipo’s DMs, their vocal delivery – which goes from clipped and no-nonsense on the verses to sweetly sarcastic on “I don’t understand you” – betraying the fucks they give (that is, none).
But Flipo ends the record on a sentimental note, joining the ranks of musicians who’ve written love songs to music itself by penning their own thinly veiled ode to the drums. ‘Made For You’ describes what Flipo has given up because of their lifelong love affair with drumming – and the musical journey it’s taken them on. “But I love you too goddamn much / So I play along,” they declare, relishing the double entendre. The song and album conclude with a raw, titanic, indulgent (hear the cowbell?) drum solo – an appropriate ending for a record fundamentally about the exhilarating catharsis one can achieve behind the kit. Buried in the mix at the end is Flipo remarking, “The neighbours will be really pissed now.” They should think about moving out – there’s going to be a lot more where that came from.
- Record label: Future Classic
- Release date: August 11