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In the Post #134: Fiction unveil ‘Lonely Planet’ from upcoming ‘In Real Life’ EP

 
By on Thursday, 25th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s been some time since we’ve heard from London band Fiction. To be more exact, it was a year and a half ago when they released their debut album ‘The Big Other’ at the start of March 2013 on Moshi Moshi Records. The LP proved to be one of my favourite LPs of last year, so I was really pleased to see they’d returned with new material. I then attributed the brilliance of the songs on ‘The Big Other’ in large part to the lightness the band imparted to them; nothing ever felt heavy-handed or overdone.

So it’s with much pleasure that I can report that they’ve achieved lightness again with new song ‘Lonely Planet’, but in a different, yet still intriguing way. The song is the first taster off their upcoming ‘In Real Life’ EP. ‘80s New Wave style percussion is still present, but it’s more understated. More obvious is the definite funkier feel to this track, especially in the chorus as Mike Barrett’s haunting voice slinks in and around the words, “somewhere there’s a lonely planet, where the sun goes down / but I’m somewhere else, I’m somewhere else / aliens grab hold of my hands / but my head’s up here / I’m somewhere else, I’m somewhere else”. If we’re meant to take the chorus literally, I sense an interesting duality: there is much you can explore in your own imagination and dreams, but if you stay lost in those thoughts, your existence away from everyone else can be a self-made lonely existence.

Memorable spiky guitar effects at the start grab your attention, but they aren’t the only instrumental points of interest in ‘Lonely Planet’. Nearer to the end of the song, horns and violins turn the tune angelic, keeping with the dreamy theme. Is it weird that I’m imagining humanoids and aliens on a faraway star, waving their arms in the air in unison to this song? Certainly, Fiction have written a beautiful song, but it’s also whimsical. And it’s got soul.

Thank you, Fiction. More, please.

9/10

Listen to the new Fiction track ‘Lonely Planet’ below. We don’t know yet when the ‘In Real Life’ EP from Fiction will be out, but we’ll keep you posted.

 

Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 16th December 2013 at 11:00 am
 

It’s amazing how quickly a year can speed by, and 2013 has been not been an exception. While there is no doubt that the biggest, loudest and most annoying press campaign to promote an album this year was the one related to Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’, it won’t appear on my list of top albums. Nope, not a chance. Like all things in life, musical tastes change over time, and judging from the LPs released this year, mine definitely have.

I haven’t decided why the pop and dance worlds not haven’t been able to produce a good amount of excellent albums (notice I said albums, not singles), but I suspect that deep down, it has to do with heart. That said, I wonder if it’s symptomatic of the industry, but I’ve been having a hard time finding albums that I want to listen to in full, over and over again. So here are my top five albums of 2013 that I think everyone should own. Or at least listen to all the way through at least once to make your own judgment about them.

Static Jacks In Blue cover1. The Static Jacks – ‘In Blue’ (Old Friends) – The best albums are those that can span the entire spectrum of emotions for when you need it. The Static Jacks came of age on their second album, writing songs that can act like an old friend who is there to laugh with you or give you a knowing hug when you need a good cry. Not to mention, despite being still pretty young guys (at least they’re legal now, which they weren’t when I first saw them in 2010), they know how to write a memorable pop melody, which, judging from a lot of the rubbish on the charts these days, is a real talent.

It’s all here. You want fun? ‘I’ll Come Back’ and ‘Wallflowers’ are clear standouts, and to be honest, I’ve had such an up and down year, I needed something to cheer me up. ‘People Don’t Forget’ is probably the closest you’re going to get to the best pop song of the year. And lyrically, title track ‘In Blue’ hits in the spot: it’s an emotionally-charged piece of pop, “you try to run from all your problems / it just makes you stumble harder / realise I’m just sorry, and I know you’re still lonely”. Just perfect. Read my review here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Fv0MyGvx8[/youtube]

Dutch Uncles Out of Touch in the Wild cover2. Dutch Uncles – ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ (Memphis Industries) – Oddly, they’re the only ones from their town of Marple from the class of 2010 (the others being Delphic and Egyptian Hip Hop) still standing tall these days. Or maybe this is not odd at all. Breaking boundaries is what Dutch Uncles is all about, having recently put on a series of shows with a string ensemble, in addition to their atypical time signatures that have become their signature, and the uniqueness has paid off.

From the frenetic pace of xylophone in ‘Fester’, the feeling that you’re floating in space when you’ve got ‘Bellio’ in your headphones or my personal favourite, the smooth string –tinged jam of ‘Flexxin’ that caught Pitchfork’s ears, this is an album you’ll want to listen to over and over again, because you’ll discover something new and exciting each time. Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, you might as well get their debut ‘Cadenza’ too: different, but also wonderful. Read my review of ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHXxKitLdrU[/youtube]

Fenech-Soler Rituals cover3. Fenech-Soler – ‘Rituals’ (B-Unique) – I’ve listened to a lot of dance albums this year, trying to find The One (figuring it’d be easier than finding the right man) and mostly, I found disappointment. Fenech-Soler’s follow-up to their 2010 debut as worth the wait, with massive singles ‘All I Want’, ‘Magnetic’ and ‘Last Forever’, as well as the beauteous ‘Maiyu’.

It also contains quite possibly this year’s best floor filler in ‘In Our Blood’, an uplifting song about an ending relationship. It might be winter right now, but this album will keep your blood pumping all through to the next season of summer festivals. Read the album review here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFK1CQPnto[/youtube]

Fiction The Big Other cover4. Fiction – ‘The Big Other’ – ‘Effortless’ is the best word I can think of to describe London band Fiction’s debut album released in March. This LP feels like classic New Wave, yet does one better by being not at all heavy-handed: it’s got a lightness that will have ‘80s children feel nostalgic, with ‘Parting Gesture’ and ‘See Me Walk’ feeling like they would have been at home in a John Hughes film.

Regardless of how old you are, young and old should be able relate to (and love) this album because as evidenced in ‘Big Things’ and ‘Museum’, it’s just damn good: rhythmic, melodic, interesting. Read my review of ‘The Big Other’ here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySBYXerX8jc[/youtube]

Arctic Monkeys AM cover sm5. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’ (Domino) – Not sure how much they should owe their placement to producer and friend Josh Homme, who basically helped reinvent them into a darker, harder version from the one that I’ll admit used to annoy the hell out of me on ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’.

For me, it’s less about Alex Turner’s vocals, sounding almost rap-like on some of the harder tracks. No, it’s the attitude throughout this album, from the bluesy guitars on ‘Do You Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine’, to the Richard Hawley-esque ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’. Mark my words, latest single ‘One for the Road’ will be a minimalist rock classic.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN7gSMPQFss[/youtube]

After the cut: discussion on albums that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 

Video of the Moment #1225: Fiction

 
By on Wednesday, 5th June 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

London’s Fiction have a new video for ‘Be Clear’, starring on their wonderful debut album ‘The Big Other’ released back in March. (Read my review here.) Not sure how else to explain what this video is like except…err…unusual? Haha. Watch it for yourself below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44BxMFaMdt4[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Fiction – The Big Other

 
By on Monday, 4th March 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Fiction Big Other coverThe first time I saw Fiction play live was supporting Marple’s Dutch Uncles at their 2011 hometown ‘Christmas’ show at Manchester Deaf Institute. Before then, it was unclear to me whether or not Fiction as the math rockers’ support band would be appropriate or not. Up to that point, I was only truly familiar with ‘Big Things’, a favourite of Steve Lamacq’s played often on his 6music drivetime show and a selection from the ‘Kitsune Maison 11: The Indie-Dance Issue’ album released in spring 2011. Incredibly infectious is ‘Big Things’, but quickly upon enjoying their live set I learned that there was far more to this band than just a passing earworm glance.

It was at this Deaf Institute show that I also learned the London band had managed to secure something pretty amazing and indeed, something many bands of similar stature – as a virtually unknown band – were insanely envious of: ‘Big Things’ had been featured on a Ford advert on telly (video below). The only similar touchstone I had to compare Fiction’s achievement with was Noah and the Whale‘s star turn in America on an extremely sunny Saturn car telly advert. Noah and the Whale, while beloved to folkies in America, still really aren’t that big in the grand scheme of things here, and every time I see them play live in DC, I groan inwardly when it’s clear that everyone in the audience is waiting for ‘5 Years’ Time’. Was Fiction doomed to a similar, one-hit wonder type fate in Britain? Thankfully, now is the time that we can have a listen to the fruits of their labour in the form of ‘The Big Other’, their debut album out today on Moshi Moshi.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BafsiczVkhw[/youtube]

According to Wikipedia, I was born at the tail end of Generation X , and when I was growing up, I tended to veer towards two eras of music: the early ’60s and what my parents referred to as the British Invasion and New Wave of the ’80s, probably best epitomised by my love for Duran Duran and Talking Heads. (Hey, in 2008 Steve Lamacq didn’t call me “the sucker for the synth” for nothing.) When I first started getting into Field Music and then Dutch Uncles, the comparisons to Talking Heads confused me, because while maybe all three bands shared an eccentricity of time signatures and an underlying but not in your face pop sensibility, my mind would never put these three bands in the same box. They are all different in my mind, and different in a good way.

I bring this up because it seems from what I have read, the sound of Fiction – along with the recent Strokes‘ song ‘One Way Trigger’ – has been lumped together rather lazily to ’80s music and New Wave, as if this is some kind of acceptable condemnation. I can personally attest to the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being obsessed with that decade of music. I will just give you one example of the ’80s coming back into fashion and appearing in a familiar yet also original way: with the roaring return of OMD in 2010 with ‘History of Modern’ and their new album this year ‘English Electric’, we are reminded there is much about music that was pioneered from the ’80s that we should be thankful for and in an increasing number of cases, we should also be paying attention to what has come before and what is being created now not as retreads of the past but as things exciting and fresh for a new generation. This is what ‘The Big Other’ represents to me: it’s surely indie pop in the broad sense of the genre, but it’s indie pop that’s nodding and giving respect to New Wave, not in an imitational, false, aping kind of way with the intention to rip off another band, but in a way that is entirely theirs and should be applauded.

‘The Big Other’ begins with a song with a strange title for the location you find it in. ‘Parting Gesture’ sounds like it should be at the end of an album, but ignore that for now and concentrate instead on the mesmerising guitar notes, followed by angelic “oohs” that feature at the start. From there, there a load of different, wonderful things going on at once: a driving rhythm, synthesiser knobs being twiddled and a vocal delivery that will recall Jim Kerr / Simple Minds during their Brat Pack popularity era. From there, you are greeted with quirky melodies that won’t leave your head and wispy vocals (‘Careful’, ‘Be Clear’). A hypnotising dance beat while “practising my shuffle” is exhibited brilliantly in ‘Step Ahead’, followed quickly with stretched dance beats in ‘See Me Walk’. while “practising my shuffle” exhibited brilliantly in ‘Step Ahead’ and and in a ‘Vertigo in Bed’, ‘To Stick To’). In a way entirely the opposite of how I feel when I hear Bastille, nothing about the way Fiction approach pop seems forced here. In ‘Museum’ (video below), rapid fire percussion with glittery guitars, dreamy vocals and effortless chord changes come together for a fully-formed, enchanting track that has not left my brain since I first heard it. There is a lot going on here, but somehow, someway, it’s not too much for this band.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySBYXerX8jc[/youtube]

There is a lightness throughout the whole album, achieved through a slight echoey quality all the way through. I have this image in my mind that this is the sort of music God would be boogieing down to Heaven. I don’t know how to explain it any better. Maybe I am just used to receiving so much in your face music, whether it be a thumping dance track, a song from a folk band with its jangly guitars and banjoes, or an altogether jarring balls to the wall, heavy rock number, and this album seems to fly in the face of all of that. ‘The Big Other’ sounds so good because it has been so carefully crafted to have maximum effect in what instrumentation is used without employing gimmickry and needing to resort to hitting you over the head with sound and being wholly annoying. I was sick for most of February and which album was my go-to to bring me some aural relief and levity? This one. If it was animate, I would be hugging it to my chest, stroking it on the head and thanking it for what it brought me.

And this lightness in sound is does not mean these songs are lightweight material; a lot of reviews so far have focussed primarily on album track ‘The Apple’, which is a poetic song to the memory of Alan Turing, a computer scientist and World War II codebreaker who tragically took his own life after being persecuted for being homosexual. If you haven’t read Martin’s interview and live review of Cosmo Jarvis‘ show at London’s Lexington which took place the same night as the BRITs, please do so here. While they are definitely the exception rather than the norm, both Jarvis and Fiction remind us that there are still artists out there who are willing to take risks with their music and we should be applauding them, not the ones who are too scared to take risks for fear of losing their mainstream popularity.

‘The Big Other’ is a perfect title for this album, because it is neither self-congratulatory or self-deprecating. Fiction is a band that has embraced the label some media pundits have given them – outsider indie – and done something amazing here. Maybe I am in the minority and don’t need to whacked on the side of my head to be made to pay attention to or enjoy a song. Maybe that’s where the music industry has gone wrong the last couple of years: an overreliance on overblown production and having the loudest and most irritating sounds seems to be what goes straight to the top of the charts. But for my money, the kind of music I want in my ears is something exciting yet thoughtful, something that will make me think, yet doesn’t feel contrived and artificial. And that’s exactly the feeling I get from this album. I’d prefer for them to be so much bigger, but if the music industry is content on keeping a band an outsider, then Fiction will just be my – and your – secret.

9.5/10

Fiction’s debut album ‘The Big Other’ is out today on Moshi Moshi. Stream the album courtesy of Dazed Digital below. The band begin a UK tour next Friday in Portsmouth; all the details of the tour are here.

 

Fiction / March 2013 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 9:30 am
 

London’s Fiction have announced a big UK tour for March. That same month, they’ll be releasing their debut album ‘The Big Other’ on Moshi Moshi (the 4th of March). They’ll also be playing an NME Awards show at London Electrowerkz on the 25th of February. Tickets are on sale now.

 

Video of the Moment #952: Fiction

 
By on Sunday, 2nd September 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

London’s Fiction – you remember them, the ‘Big Things’ blokes – have a new promo video out for ‘Careful’, their single out now on Moshi Moshi. It’s got a bit of Talking Heads / art rock flavour and is less poppy than ‘Big Things’, but still pretty awesome. Watch it below.

We just learned yesterday that Fiction will be supporting Everything Everything on their October UK tour.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJJ1YWAUjUU[/youtube]

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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