Many of the Americans amongst you probably know Fastball, most likely as a one-hit wonder type of band from the late 90s. I'm not so sure if others will recognise them; I know I bought this album because I was an impressionable young teen on holiday in Florida, and they were getting a lot of airplay at the time. I often credit this as being the first CD I bought that was in any way approaching rock, so in a way I owe it a lot - it made me aware that there were more than five or six bands in the world, and encouraged me to seek out new music (something which I haven't stopped doing since, really) - and I suppose it's odd that I still like it. I'll try to be objective, though, despite my personal affection toward it.
Without mincing any words, this is more or less a guitar pop album (i.e. pop songs played with guitar). I tend to distinguish between guitar pop and soft rock by saying that guitar pop is basically written primarily with poppiness in mind. It's a ridiculously blurry line, and you can take what you want from it. As long as you've got a ballpark idea of what they're playing, we're cool.
Anyway, as you probably guessed from that, there's nothing technically stellar here (and no swearing, as if that makes a difference). However, it doesn't give the impression of being a cynically manufactured album - most of the tracks have something of a darker side or a curveball to throw you, musically or lyrically (for example, The Way
, the big hit single of the album, has a good solo, and most of the songs have a surprisingly good bass performance for what is essentially a poppy album). With the exception of Sweetwater
, which isn't very good anyway, there's a lack of customary ballads, which is refreshing, and to my mind another indicator that this album wasn't pieced together with major commercial success in mind. What's even more refreshing is that they manage slower tracks without simply making them ballads – Slow Drag
is one of my favourite songs here.
The dual vocalists, although they don't sing together on any tracks, instead electing to take lead on some tracks and not on others, are another oddity, reminiscent (to me) of Oasis. It goes without saying that all of the songs here are nicely infectious, though I must admit that I find it hard to distinguish how infectious now, when practically every note is set deeply in my mind anyway.
Basically, this is 40-odd minutes of really good poppy rock, though in my opinion, the album does get worse as it goes on - the first seven tracks are excellent, the following three are good, and the last one isn't really very good at all. I've no idea of the general opinion regarding this album (in critical/historical terms), though I imagine it's not very high; I can't see this being thought of as particularly important, or anything like that. I do know that it was an important album (a turning point) for me (and I'm fairly sure it stole Spikey's heart as well), and I think that the mere fact that I still like it now, more than six years later, with my tastes ranging from extreme metal to jazz, says something about it's quality as such an album. Then again, maybe it is actually crap, and I've just spent this review desperately trying to find justification for my liking it.
With that in mind, I'm torn as to what to rate this. Is it 2/5 rubbish, which I just happen to have great affection for? Or is it actually a good album, for what it is?
3.8/5 with the thinking "Screw it, it's my review."