Review Summary: Bridging the gap between Carbon Copy and Fables From a Mayfly.
With Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True
, Fair to Midland came out of 2007 with only one of the year's biggest surprises. Hell, if not for Raine Maida's releasing of The Hunters Lullaby
, the Texan quintet might have had the year's strongest album. Long time fans of the band wouldn't likely have been surprised, however. Both The Carbon Copy of Silver Lining
and 2004's Inter.funda.stifle
, though slightly different from Fair to Midland's major label debut, were excellent records in their own right.
If anything, Inter.funda.stifle
can be described as the bridge between the straight forward alternative metal of The Carbon Copy of Silver Lining
and Fables From a Mayfly
's eccentric art rock sound. Need convincing? Six of the latter's songs originated here. However, though the versions featured on Inter.funda.stifle
are basically the same songs, they each have distinct differences. Most notably, these songs are much heavier numbers, and though they maintain an ethereal feel (largely due to Matt Langley's keyboards), Fair to Midland seem more interested in aggressive material - "The Walls of Jericho" even closes off with a guitar driven breakdown. A major reason change in mood is the difference in production. In contrast to the crystal clear Fables From a Mayfly
is a much muddier affair. Because vocalist Darroh Sudderth's croons, shouts, and wails seem buried in the mix, songs such as "Dance of the Manatee" and "Upgrade^Brigade" make for more urgent listens.
As for the songs exclusive to Inter.funda.stifle
, as one would expect, they manage to maintain the quality that Fair to Midland has become known for. Leading the way are "Orphan Anthem '86" and "Granny Niblo". The former is a mellow cut, and easily one of the most beautiful songs the band has ever done. Powered by Sudderth's powerful delivery, swirling keyboards, walls of heavy (but not aggressive) distortion and a chorus that is as inspiring as it is infectious, "Orphan Anthem '86" just might be Inter.funda.stifle
's strongest track. Likewise, "Granny Niblo" is also a beautiful song, and though it isn't quite as awe-inspiring as the former, it manages to uphold the epic atmosphere created by "Orphan Anthem '86". "Quince" is one of the band's spacier tracks, and while perhaps not as immediately accessible as the record's other songs, is a more laidback number that closes the album brilliantly.
Inter.funda.stifle isn't the easiest album to get into, and may take a few listens to properly appreciate, especially to someone who first discovered Fair to Midland through Fables From a Mayfly
. Much of this can be attributed to the weak production, but eventually even this becomes a non-issue. While it is the clearer, more mature sound that elevates Fables From a Mayfly
, Fair to Midland's sophomore effort remains a superb effort that helps set the stage for later releases.