Fiction – The Big Other

Albums / Words

05 Mar 13

Fiction finally get round to showcasing their bold, adept sound across full length LP The Big Other, and it’s expectedly unabashed and nerdy in droves.

This’s an album’s album: following a self-same format of ludicrous musicianship, track’s lay like sleepers beneath a less wooded train. If drums lead forwards, funky rhythmic guitar moves in ode to the carriages themselves, as do wandering vocals; which truck through crevices like a soundtrack to a silent movie.

‘Careful’ is delightful but oddly trying, as the four-piece craft an insatiable hook-y pop track out of genuine musical abstraction and off-kilter guitar warbles: experimentalism is at the heart of all these lads pull off; and it’s all craftily hidden amongst a project with no notable weak spots or shortcomings.

This is a cute, nimble album which treads carefully, partly thanks to well-seeded production qualities. Fiction aren’t a new band, Often, this is felt via a sense of lyrical pragmatism: but this wisdom is never exchanged for fun, it’s just shoved up against it in honest unison.

Contrarily kicking off with a song called ‘Parting Gesture’, Fiction do well at delineating an idiosyncratic space for themselves.

That track one dangles an anguished ‘where the hell next?’ question over a buoyant groove characteristic of a band which smiles, plays along, and humours its own unpredictable turns as if focused on some external agenda.

As a whole, The Big Other is a unified, exuberant blend of tearing and conflicting segments and cosmopolitan colours – an appealing manifesto from the mathy Londoners.

Take ‘Careful’: a funk-lite chillout of the Talking Heads variety, underscored by primal beats which evoke Wild Beasts and their sundry inspirations. At once there is both dissonance – angular new wave oddities and bleeps which might have been outputted by an early IBM computer – and composite serenity.

Thus the compelling balancing act. There’s the lumbering disjunction of the first half of ‘See Me Walk’ – the album’s self-confessed ”bull in a china shop” – and then! the euphoric metamorphosis: a soaring tour de force of electronic noodling.

But Fiction’s richness isn’t just about an instantaneous ability to flower. It’s in the egalitarianism maintained throughout. Witness ‘Vertigo in Bed’, which straightjackets new age dreaminess with military drums: the blossoming, as ever, circumscribed by the brooding in a delicate and beautifully-produced concoction.

At a recent party I realised people HATE the 80s. Or at least 3 people out 7 HATED the 80s. People HATE the 80s. Unless its artists that are just totally influenced by the 80s but not withered and like 40 years old. I present to you Fiction.

The Big Other is 80s influenced. It’s all over it. The synth. The funky bass lines. The warbling low key vocals. The singular dotty high string guitar notes. They bloody love the 80s. This means the album’s fun and light and easy to get into. Just like the 80s (Just forget about all that Thatcher stuff!). Yeah the 80s! Yeah! Yeah!

While it is nice to listen to, it doesn’t feel memorable. You often feel like you have heard these songs before. ‘Veritgo In Bed’ is a prime example.
Familiarity isn’t always a bad thing but I just don’t feel that Fiction are doing enough to push the already saturated 80s resurgence genre forward.

There are stand out moments however. Such as the beautiful chorus line in ‘Careful’( though the drums ruined the effect the second time round). And the cascading guitar in the upbeat foot stomp that is ‘Museum’. The obvious hit is ‘Big Things’ which I am sure I have already heard on some advert with kids flying about and phones hitting them in their spotty little faces as their Dads weep into their wallets.

I do think this band has a promising future, but I would like to hear them move away from such a 80s heavy sound and garner some other influences and see what they come up with. In the meantime enjoy the nostalgia.