Kermes are a queer-centric quartet from Leicester who have been rising in their local scene over the past few years, and recently exploded on to our radar with the single 'Yr Beast'. This Friday sees the release of their debut album We Choose Pretty Names via Robot Needs Home, and we have the absolute pleasure of bringing it to your ears a few days early.

Not only can you listen to the entirety of We Choose Pretty Names below, but their singer Emily has carefully put together a track by track guide for the album. Stream the album below, and check out Emily's words on each of the 10 tracks beneath.

Emily's track by track of We Choose Pretty Names:

01. I Wanna Be Yr Sometimes

I had this really intense breakup while I was writing the album, so a lot of the songs are about that, or using that to frame something. 'I Wanna Be Yr Sometimes' is a moment of desperation, where the whole relationship is screwed up beyond repair but you’re still trying to cling on to it, even though you know there’s nothing left. Oh, and all apologies to Sleater-Kinney regarding the title.

02. The Argonauts

The title comes from a great Maggie Nelson book, specifically referencing the part where she compares love to the constant rebuilding of the Argo; the themes of building queer family and community that she covers in that book are all over this album. This is also about that breakup, and working through all these ridiculous toxic feelings I was having about it. The chorus “here I stand, I can do no other” is a Martin Luther quote, except apparently most people think that he never said it. I like the melodrama of that line when you reapply it in the context of a relationship. The guitar part in the chorus is ridiculously hard for me to play while I’m singing - it’s been a year and I’m still pretty sure I get it wrong all the time.

03. Nobody’s Fool

Yeah, so, I was trying to write a Spook School song and i just totally missed the mark. I love how it turned out though - we haven’t had enough disco beats in this band for my liking. I’m really proud of the lyrics on this one as well. One thing I realised after coming out as trans is that there is so little framework to make sense of it in - it’s been othered by society for so long, and it often feels like you’re just totally isolated and clueless about what to do, so you turn to the community online, in forums and on Facebook etc. This song’s about people relying on you to help make sense of their own gender situation when you have literally no idea what the fuck is going on with yours, and being terrified that you’re gonna fuck them up somehow. Go read Nevada by Imogen Binnie, because it’s a wonderful book that covers a lot of the same ground; I read it in an afternoon and only cried, like, 6 times, honest.

04. Casting the Creatures

One theme that comes up a lot on the album is the idea of feeling ugly, feeling like a freak, and peacefully existing in a way that make people viscerally hate you. Did I mention I’m trans? On 'Creatures' I’m trying to sort of own it, to neutralise it. It’s also about the liberating possibilities of queer sex, even when it’s the most terrifying thing in the world because you’ve internalised all this stuff about how you’re an unlovable freak. I really hope my mum doesn’t read this!

05. Questioning

This song’s for every queer person who’s reached the point of exhaustion with having to navigate their identity in this cis-heteronormative society. Sometimes it feels like the world just won’t let me live and I have all this *STUFF* I need to get out of me or I'll explode, and that’s sort of how this one came about. It goes down pretty well live, but we have to play it early in the set ‘cos it takes so much out of me that I’m worried my body’ll just fall apart.

06. Boyfriend

This is the heart of the record and it’s a pretty different kind of song for us. Weirdly enough it’s becoming a live favourite? Maybe we should scrap the whole ‘punk’ thing. Anyway, this is about how I didn’t get to be a teenage girl and being really sad about that even though being a teenage girl is hard as shit. The last bit - “I don’t want a lover, I just need a line” is about how I shouldn’t need other people to understand myself; that if I write enough then I can do that on my own. A rare hopeful song!

07. Time to Shut Him Up

You know when yr at a show or a party and there’s some boorish dickhead dude who won’t leave you alone? The Lynx Africa kind, the kind that think they’re god’s gift, the actually-kinda-stalkery kind; you know the type. Well, this song’s a role-reversal power fantasy in which we get to tell these assholes to fuck off forever. Jordy’s drums make this one of my absolute favourites to play - I’m normally laughing hysterically by the time we reach the end.

08. Ready for Love

This song still terrifies me because I’ve never written so bluntly and honestly about my body and sex and all that jazz. Over the course of the song, I go from the mental state where 'The Argonauts' lives to somewhere that I think is more healthy and responsible, and if that isn’t growth then I don’t know what is. Oh, and the first verse references Lulu, the awful Lou Reed & Metallica album. Don’t say I never treat you!

09. We Choose Pretty Names

We’re in similar thematic ground to 'Casting the Creatures' here, but sort of the next level up - being so tired of trying to attain a false standard of beauty and behaviour that something just snaps inside you? And you just say no! I want to be ugly! I want to terrify you! I can’t and won’t fit your bullshit standards! As you can imagine, it’s incredibly cathartic to play live and I’m really proud of it. I think we really pushed ourselves somewhere musically new with this one, and it’s a place we’re definitely gonna explore more in future.

10. Yr Beast

This song just wouldn’t fit anywhere except the end. We nearly always close our shows with this and it just feels right to end things with a big musical punch in the face, you know? 'Yr Beast' is, like the title track, a song about refusing a role. I am tired of the lip service paid to representation of trans and/or queer people in the media while what little rights we have are being eroded in front of us. I am really, truly, deeply angry about the way this society treats us, and I will never shut up about it. To quote dril: I Will Never Log Off. Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoy the record.


Kermes' album We Choose Pretty Names comes out on Friday, and can be pre-ordered here. You can follow them on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter and catch them at the following live dates:

14th April – YMCA – Leicester (Headline)
18th April – Gwdihw – Cardiff (With Happy Accidents)
19th April – Nottingham TBC (With Happy Accidents)
20th April – Wharf Chambers – Leeds (With Happy Accidents)