Fair To Midland

Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

Written by: AG on 09/09/2007 19:07:14

Here at Rockfreaks.net, we have forum threads on the admin side where PP writes down all the albums our zine should review, and we pick the ones we'd like to write about. I believe it was last month, the latest topic of that kind had been rushed by my fellow reviewers, and all that was left was Fair To Midland's "Fables From A Mayfly". I am now ashamed to tell you I didn't know this band, but i'm definitely going to check their older material as this album is really stunning in many ways.

Back to the story, I read a bit about them on various sites. Fair To Midland are a prog-rock/metal outfit, who combine pretty much every style in rock music today, be it pop-rock, alternative, hardcore, folk-rock and even a hint of 70s metal flavor. They are signed to Serjical Strike, which is SOAD's Serj Tankian's label, and the two bands share the same progressive and exuberant approach, despite their styles being very different. All of this seemed great, but one thing bothered me: most crossover bands don't realize that mixing two existing genres doesn't really create a new one, Limp Bizkit anyone? Hey mom, my verse is rap, and my chorus is rock, i'm a genius, let's make billions!

I now turn into serious critic mode. Just like on a date, don't expect Fair To Midland's newest album to deliver the goods the first time. But on the first spins, the listener is welcomed to the album by Fair To Midland's most accessible and poppy edge, to be then dragged into the more complex aspects of those songs. Opener "(Tibet) Dance Of The Manatee" is maybe the best song on the album, as it perfectly blends all of the qualities Fair To Midland can be proud of. Its verses are mid-tempo gentle melodies, featuring gentle guitar riffs, daydreamy keyboards and some aerial singing by vocalist Darroh Suddereth. Kudos to him for being such a versatile singer, as he can on this song turn in turn hum his part, sing in 80s metal falsetto style and even growl some of the words. The mood remains throughout album brooding and cathartic, as if Fair To Midland were a machine on the verge of implosion. Which they do, as the epic "April Fools And Eggmen" is probably the most passionate and emotion-packed song on the record. Suddereth's sky-high performance is even more beautiful with the use of violins and a very tight guitar part.

But as everything that comes from Texas (ie. George, Walker...), Fair To Midland are conservatists in their own league. Sure, they draw the best from every genre they refer to, but they do not create anything new. Every song is as ambivalent as a pop song. I mean that you will like what you hear, you might even think that it is original, but there will always be a feeling of déja-vu creeping in your mind. I believe that might come from the cliché mid-tempo verses featuring gentle chord picking that remind me of radio-friendly post grunge. Another minor flaw is that the second half of the album may not be as brilliant as the first, even if "Tall Tales Like Sour Grapes" is one of the best songs on the album. To finish on a bright note, I can tell you there won't be any problem with lasting value. Expect Fair To Midland to become as big as SOAD once were, as they deserve to be. One of the better albums of 2007.

Download: Dance Of The Manatee, Kyla Cries Cologne, April Fools and Eggmen
For the fans of: Poppy Paradise Lost, Trippy SOAD, Ranches
Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.06.2007
Serjical Strike

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