Review Summary: The proverbial foot in the door… Even if it is five years too late.
Due to the cut-throat nature of the music industry these days, artists are practically expected to make a huge splash right from the get-go. With revenue streams such as album sales being diluted, record labels are now less likely to be patient with musicians, and virtually demand immediate success. Bands such as The Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party have been able to make an instantaneous impact to set up their careers, however they are in the minority and for every one of those groups, there are hundreds of others trying to get their foot in the door. The likes of MGMT and The Fratellis have released catchy and noticeable debuts that do not realistically capture the true sound of their bands. Meanwhile, others prefer the tried and true measure of piecing together their influences to cater for as wide an audience as possible. On behalf of the latter category, please meet Northern Irish trio General Fiasco.
Consisting of brothers Owen & Enda Strathern and drummer Stephen Leacock, the guitar-driven melodies of General Fiasco will remind listeners of any number of accessible Indie-Rock bands. The Enemy, Snow Patrol and Stereophonics all immediately come to mind, while fellow Northern Irish outfit Ash are also an obvious comparison point. Yet, General Fiasco are in no way a direct facsimile of any of these bands, instead choosing to take a little part of each of them to construct their sound. Unfortunately, this means that they do not deliver anything new on debut LP ‘Buildings’, with originality and complexity clearly not on the menu here. Almost half of the album suffers from a blandness that not only makes some songs blend into each other, but also sees them instantly forgotten as soon as the next track starts.
That is not to say that there is anything awful contained on ‘Buildings’. Searching for a lowlight is quite tricky, while there is undoubtedly a consistency apparent that will be welcomed by some listeners. Furthermore, the relatively front-loaded LP begins strongly with singles ‘We Are The Foolish’ and ‘Ever So Shy’ both exuding a certain indie coolness - no matter how artificial it is - which should resonate with radio stations worldwide. Variety is disappointingly at a premium on ‘Buildings’, with the near-epic title track standing out due to its six minute length and rousing strings & horns arrangement during its extended finale. The climaxes of many songs are actually quite well handled since the likes of lead single ‘Rebel Gets By’, ‘Talk To My Friends’ and the energetic ‘Dancing With Girls’ all eventually come to life. It is just a shame that too many of these cuts fade into the background before they finally rock out.
To put it simply, those looking for an original and innovative album to sink their teeth into are going to be rather unimpressed by ‘Buildings’… In fact, the generic Indie-Rock nature of the sound could even anger some, since it is clearly an LP which would have gone down significantly better five years ago. However, those looking for a safe, competent, consistent and easily digestible collection of ten songs should be satisfied with what General Fiasco have offered up here on their debut release. With ‘Buildings’, the trio have indeed got their foot in the door… Now it is up to them to capitalize on this by fulfilling the scattered snippets of potential evident here, and developing their own true sound next time around.
Recommended Tracks: Buildings, We Are The Foolish & Ever So Shy.