The Radar: Subtlety Is For Other People by QFolk

By Shaun Ponsonby
Thu 08 November, 2018

Somewhere between Tom Waits and Britney Spears lies QFolk, a non-binary fantasy trash babe and a one human post-folk punk yelling experience.

QFolk has a self-described aesthetic of Britney Spears meets Tom Waits – a one human post-folk punk yelling experience.

Naturally, with such a description, it is no surprise that the music itself is approached with a self-deprecating sense of humour. The new album is called Subtlety Is For Other People, which pretty much sums up not just the release, but QFolk’s entire being.  

Despite the Spears and Waits combination, we found the most obvious comparison to be Chuck Ragan, the former Hot Water Music frontman who turned to acoustic folk-punk and founded The Revival Tour – an ongoing project which has featured members of bands like The Gaslight Anthem, Alkaline Trio, Lucero, The Hold Steady and Against Me!, along with solo artists such as Frank Turner and Dave Hause.

Like Ragan, QFolk bellows in a husky, whisky drenched voice and whilst battering an acoustic guitar within an inch of its life. At times it sounds almost like a parody of such hyper masculinity, a notion that is supported by the heap of queer pixie dust over the whole thing, and a kind of semi-comical exaggerated roar that remains one of Waits’ hallmarks, but that any professional singing tutor would undoubtedly wince at.

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Perhaps the best track on the release is Non-Binary Fantasy Trash Babe, where QFolk does reign in the bellowing just a tad and matched with an earworm of a chorus that could easily be tarted up into hit potential.

Lyrically, though, the song is a humorous walk through the life of the non-binary fantasy trash babe, awash with witty one liners (“When I said ‘fuck cops’, I didn’t mean in that way”) and the journey of self-identification (“You asked if I was gay, I said ‘Sort of, but, well maybe/Not quite in the way that you were thinking, but that’s a whole thing, but hey!”). Definitely the most enjoyable song in the set, and probably the best crafted.

Of course, like Waits, QFolk is probably a little too uncompromising for many, but there is beauty behind the madness if you care enough to look for it.

Lead Image: Graham Smillie