Alternate Endings

Written by: TL on 01/09/2008 23:48:06

The release of Fightstar's b-sides album "Alternative Endings" spawned in me a strong motivation to revisit their catalogue, and after doing that for a couple of weeks, I have renewed faith in the fact that not only is ex-Busted member Charlie Simpson's new band seemingly incapable of doing anything wrong musically, but calling them one of Britain's best upcoming bands would almost be a disservice to them, seeing as the strength of their sound would intimidate the confidence out of any upstart underground act.

From an intro like that, you can probably deduct that either I'm a Fightstar-fanboy or their B-sides album is fuckin' excellent. While the former is certainly the case, fortunately it does not exclude the latter, because despite how doing an album of rarities and b-sides with only two full lengths in the bag can seem a bit over-confident, the songs on "Alternate Endings" prove that Fightstar are good for it.

The album contains songs that have previously only been available as b-sides to single, acoustic versions of known songs, a bunch of covers, and finally a new song that'll be on the next Fightstar album. Well known tracks like "Floods" and "99" are here in acoustic versions along with covers of Flaming Lips' "Waiting For A Superman" and The Cure's "In Between Days", and on this part of the record, Charlie's vocal work steals the spotlight, with a performance so varied, capable and distinct, that I'm willing to put him right up there with Matt Bellamy as one of the best singers in England. That being said, while the rendition of "Waiting For A Superman" has been haunting my playlist for a while, these songs have been heard before, and they are the less interesting pieces on the CD.

"Amethyst", one of the strong songs off the earliest "They Liked You Better When You Were Dead EP" also makes an appearance, complete with the early recording of "Hazy Eyes", included as a 'hidden track' towards the end, fittingly showing newer fans that there's also some good stuff on that disc. Of the actual b-sides there are seven, and while I for one realize how these have been filtered out of the band's albums, they're still more worthy of listening than a LOT of stuff that crosses my review desk, songs like "Dark Star" and "Zihuatanejo" being highlights. Alex Westaway's vocals also come into their own here, providing a perfect contrast to Charlie's, and I'm surprised to find that I'm reminded of Tool's Maynard in the odd part of his.

While I'm sure Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" will interest some, it seems a bit too direct in expression for Fightstar, and their version of Deftones' "Minerva" is certainly a more welcome addition, considering how Deftones is probably the band that seems to have influenced Fightstar the most. Regardless, when all comes to all it is the new track "Where's The Money Lebowski" that really steals the spotlight, raising expectations for the coming album significantly. The main riff is downright mean and the screams that dominate the song sneer at you in unrestrained defiance, creating a muscular sound that's contrasted for only brief moments by Charlie's beautifully soft vocal parts. Slap a guitar riff in during the bridge that would make Iron Maiden fans turn their heads, and you have yourself a winner.

All in all, Fightstar face and floor the doubts about whether or not there was a justification for a b-sides album this early in their career, as well as furthering the impression that Mr. Simpson has more than redeemed his past sins. The album is equally strong as an introduction to the band for newer fans, as for expanding on the collections of people who already worship the Simpson family. You'd be stupid not to get it.


Download: Where's The Money Lebowski, Zihuatanejo, Waiting For A Superman
For The Fans Of: Muse, Deftones, 30 Seconds To Mars, Tool

Release Date 11.08.2008
Gut Records

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