Review Summary: Fake Problems continues its shift to a more accessible and fun sound, but loses originality in the process.
It’s really incredible how quickly a landmark release can impact those up-and-coming groups that are just a brilliant inspiration or a break away from being launched into hordes of acclaim. The Gaslight Anthem’s sophomore release, The ’59 Sound
has already demonstrated a vast and significant influence on the alternative and punk scene, which is especially blatant when listening to The State Lottery or Fake Problems. The latter has been quite occupied for the four years that they have been an item; releasing three full-length albums and opening for the likes of Murder by Death and The Gaslight Anthem. Fake Problems emerged as a folk-punk quartet with debut How Far Our Bodies Go
; not a far cry from genre giants Against Me!, but possessing a much more polished and laissez-faire approach. The Naples, Florida natives opted for an even more refined and hook-laden sound with their sophomore effort, recalling Gaslight’s transition from Sink or Swim
to The ’59 Sound
. The release however, It’s Great to Be Alive
, was met with mixed reviews to say the least and left Fake Problems as a relatively unknown entity without a breakthrough.
With Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
, it is overly apparent that Fake Problems is still developing this glossy and accessible sound. In fact, the band’s third full-length record is even further from their folk-punk roots; almost to a point where it more comfortably placed into the indie pop classification. Musically, Fake Problems’ 2010 release is a tight and melodic endeavor; simply crafted with a steady rhythm section and tranquil leads. The emphasis of the record however, is placed on its accessibility and exuberance. Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
is an attempt to capitalize on sweeping hooks and monstrous sing-alongs, which are demonstrated through choruses such as “Just tap your feet along with your heartbeat”
and “And they’re not gonna be happy until everybody’s clapping along.”
This unfortunately, is where the record appears to have a shallow quality; a stab at creating those soulful anthems that have been touted among their peers, but ultimately coming off as pedestrian. There is certainly an amusing characteristic about Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
, but this enjoyment is watered down by a lack of replay value and underdeveloped songwriting. If the aforementioned lyrics aren’t convincing enough, lead singer Chris Farren claims “I had it all figured out then it washed away”
in the record’s penultimate track.
Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
is particularly frustrating because the potential is there, but Fake Problems requires a great deal of maturation before the band can explode into recognition and acclaim akin to its contemporaries. The Naples natives seem to be accumulating inspiration from the right places and will be successful if this is properly channeled. Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
is a far cry from the acclaim gathered by the likes of The Gaslight Anthem and The State Lottery; an enjoyable, yet ultimately watered down record that doesn’t profit from on its simplicity.