Review Summary: 'Examination brings the truth…’
Aaron Sprinkle is a big-name producer for the Tooth & Nail Records label. Over the past decade, the producer has put his name on several releases from roughly 45 bands. All of this work in the studio might cause one to think that the Seattle music creator must have little to no free time on his hands, but somehow, as is the case with Fair, the songwriter is able to operate in a four-piece band. What’s even more interesting--Fair is probably better than eighty percent of the bands Aaron Sprinkle helps in the studio.
Sophomore effort Disappearing World
begins with the album’s title track and lead single. There’s always a bit of danger in presenting listeners with the album’s first radio song right from the start; the accessible nature of the track can easily mislead some into thinking the rest of the album is of similar caliber and consistency, particularly when it comes to albums from alternate-pop acts like Fair. However, I’m happy to say that Fair do not run into this problem. “Wayside” and “Walking In My Sleep” follow the catchy song structure of the title track and place a spin of their own on the delivery. The prior takes on the lyrical subject of a girl who is lost in her woes, and while, yes, we’ve heard this before, Sprinkle’s powerful vocal delivery is able to keep everything pretty fresh. If anything, the producer’s voice is the main strength of the band. Taking equal parts intensity from Anberlin’s Stephen Christian and the smooth, dreamy feel of Copeland’s Aaron March, the songwriter is able to relay his often-commonplace lyrics in a way that is just able to sink a little deeper into the surface of listeners.
Highlight “One Last Time” showcases Fair stepping it up a bit and increasing their mid-tempo sound to something more energetic, and likewise, more compelling. Later, under the orchestrated, piano-balladry of “Take Some Risks”, Aaron laments, ’All I want comes so easily / to everyone around me’
. A little melodramatic in practice, sure, but lines like this seem to make Fair sound really down to earth, and as a positive--or a negative depending on your preference--they're really easy to understand and relate to while listening; it’s even better that he does not come across as whiny--he just sounds tired with the world and people in general. “It’s Doubtful” is an attempt to pull at the heart strings of the ladies. While the attention of the album is predominately on Aaron’s songwriting and singing, that’s not to say that the rest of the band is completely missing in the mix. For example, guitarist Erick Newbill lets lose a surprising guitar solo at the end of the upbeat song that is sure to raise an eyebrow. Likewise, similar solos and surprising guitar riffs can be found throughout parts of Disappearing World
; given the generally laid-back feel of the album, I’m surprised these inclusions work as well as they do.
It’s nice to see Fair placing the best of what they have together to create a more consistent album than that of their debut. Not to knock The Best Worse-Case Scenario
, but the album was a little lopsided in its placing of highlights and filler-ish tracks. Thankfully, with Disappearing World
, that’s not the case. You have your upbeat rockers like the title track, “Waysided”, “One Last Time”, and “It’s Doubtful”, and you have your syrupy, yet well-played ballads like “Take Some Risks”, the fantastic “The Worst Of Your Wear”, and the naked piano keys of the honesty-filled “Anymore”. When it gets down to it, Disappearing World
is a great pop-rock album to fit any mood.
Listening to Fair makes me smile. Here is a producer that is well known in the music industry for his work in the last decade in producing a plethora of Tooth & Nail Records releases, and yet, he’s not even doing the things where his talents truly lie. Aaron Sprinkle shouldn’t be behind the soundboard at some studio in Nashville, Tennessee--no, Aaron Sprinkle should be spending his time with Fair. If Disappearing World
is of any indication of the songwriter’s talent and future direction, then I’ll be the first to say that Anberlin may need to look behind them every now and then to make sure that Fair do not catch them by surprise in the future. If the prior band mixed in with equal parts Copeland and Snow Patrol sounds interesting to you, then you should probably get a hold of this album.
’You might hesitate, but I wouldn’t recommend it.’