Siamese Fighting Fish

We Are The Sound

Written by: TL on 26/01/2011 01:12:59

Having witnessed this band for a few years now, and growing slowly and steadily from reluctant listener to ardent follower, Siamese Fighting Fish's debut LP "We Are The Sound" eventually became one of my most expected releases for this new year. This could make some expect for its review to degenerate into a biased display of favouritism, and you all are allowed your opinions, but the way I look at it however, is that few people will likely have had as high expectations for this record as I have - And having that in mind, the bar for "We Are The Sound" is actually set quite high. This is all irrelevant to the world at large though. To them, SIFIFI is likely a band they've never heard about, and the aim of this record is first and foremost to change this fact, so without further delay, let's talk about how it fares:

While the band still cite their original influences in Incubus and System Of A Down, I suspect this is mostly for the sake of providing easy reference points for a potential Danish audience, because the truth is that SIFIFI hardly sound much like those bands at the moment. In fact, I'm sure reviewers around the country will be scratching their heads when it comes to finding accurate references, because this band's foremost trait of character seems to be an almost stubborn desire to mix musical oil and water. Serene melodic passages, cheeky dance-punk attitudes, ridiculously heavy breaks, epic harmonies and eastern sounding violin - all of these elements find comfortable places, side by side on "We Are The Sound", and as far as name-dropping bands for comparison goes, my mind can only reach out for the most obscure types of fusion-rock bands. Here I'm thinking of Iceland's Agent Fresco, or J-rock bands like MUCC or Girugamesh, but since you're unlikely to know any of those, I guess most of you are just in for something new.

And that's just a description of the general sound, not the specifics, and not the execution. In those departments, there are some good and some bad news, and we're starting with the bad. First and foremost, the normally very reliable and versatile singing of Mirza Radonjica has a few weird moments, found in the beginning of opener "Chronicles Of Lovers" and in both verse and chorus of my lowpoint for the album "Dressed To The Nines", all of them moments in which Mirza sounds uncharacteristically strained. Moreover, while I don't mourn old song "For You" turning into a ballad, I do think its arrangement is the album's dullest, and having recently seen the band's aptitude for rendering their songs in really sexy acoustic versions, trying some of that in this song could have been a more interesting choice. Those are my minor complaints though, my major grief is with some of the production choices. While the sound of the recording is actually mostly very smooth, complimenting especially the melodic parts very well, it has in my opinion failed to realize the full potential of the band's heavier side. Mirza's angry screams (which remind me of Enter Shikari's Rou Reynolds) sound like they've been smothered and hidden in the background, and I get a similar feeling with the echoing sound the guitars have when at their heaviest. They manage to get their monumental expression across, but still, the sound is more like that of distant thunder than that of a ton of bricks falling on your head, and I much prefer the latter, with the reasoning being that aggression is as important a quality for SIFIFI as is melody, and their dynamics suffer from it being seemingly smoothed over somewhat.

When that is all said and done however, credit must be given where credit is due, and credit is due for more than a handful of the ten tracks on offer here. The remake of "K.I.T.T And The Heroic Villains" is the first to harvest roses, as it has me loving the ringing melody that's been added under the chorus. This however, is only an early symptom of another brilliant feature of this record, namely the interplay between the four string instruments. Songs like for instance "Gods On TV", "Sundance" and "Perfect Human Being" all have moments that will send chills down your spine, while leaving no doubt about the wisdom in adding violinist Jonas Klitgaard and new guitarist Andreas Krüger. Their interweaving of melodies and harmonies with remaining members Rasmus Krøyer on guitar, Morten Jakobsen on Bass and Villads Berg on drums, is chief among the things that make SIFIFI an extraordinary band. That and the will to commit to epic, dramatic moments like those presented in for instance "Vilo Moja" and "Emily", in which Mirza also appears at his best, with performances similar to the most emotive ones of the likes Jonny Craig (Emarosa) and Toby Morell (Emery).

It's a terrible cliché, and very often also a lie, to say about a record that it creates a sound that is entirely its own, but that is exactly what the boldly titled "We Are The Sound" is all about, and I think most people will have considerable trouble arguing against its success. More so when even the obscure bands that I mentioned as references, have never really engaged the listener so immediately as "We Are The Sound" does. This I think is SIFIFI's greatest accomplishment, because just like those other bands, these guys have always had the skill and ambition to push the envelope, but to do so while sweeping up the listener so seamlessly - that is pretty special. So while there are moments on "We Are The Sound" that reveal SIFIFI's relative inexperience, when it's good, it's brilliant, and easily deserving of one of the highest grades I've ever given to a Danish band.


Download: Vilo Moja, Gods On TV, Sundance, Emily, Perfect Human Being
For The Fans Of: Agent Fresco, VOLA, Girugamesh, MUCC

Release Date 31.01.2011
Mighty Music

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