Fair to Midland
Arrows and Anchors


4.5
superb

Review

by Billy USER (32 Reviews)
July 10th, 2011 | 226 replies | 22,339 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beautiful, original and crushing, all at the same time. Arrows and Anchors is one of the best releases to come out of 2011.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

Smart, unique alternative rock is becoming somewhat of a rarity in today’s music industry. Only a handful of bands such as Manchester Orchestra, Karnivool and Thrice are prepared to branch out and try something different and still retain an inherent accessibility about them. Given the ever increasing saturation of music worldwide, it often takes something quite special to break out of the rut and create something truly interesting and captivating. What Texan quintet Fair to Midland have achieved with their fourth album Arrows and Anchors, however, is just that.

Continuing on from where their breakthrough album Fables From a Mayfly left off, Fair To Midland have put together an outstanding album of eclectic rock music, albeit in a heavier fashion this time around. Arrows and Anchors is the natural progression from Fables… in that it improves the band’s overall sound while still retaining what made its predecessor such an excellent release. Tracks such as the utterly magical ‘Golden Parachutes’ and ‘Short Haired Tornado’ are perfect examples of this. In fact, the chorus of ‘Golden Parachutes’ is arguably one of the best rock choruses this year, let alone on the album. Praise must be given to vocalist Darroh Sudderth who possesses one of the best voices in rock music today, as displayed in the aforementioned songs.

Elsewhere, Arrows and Anchors is not without the experimentation that Fair To Midland is known for. As with their previous releases, despite the bands obvious strengths instrumentally, it is their off kilter song writing that is the main drawcard here. Even on the more straightforward songs such as ‘Golden Parachutes’ and ‘Uh-Oh’ the quintet manage to draw on an array of influences and retain their accessibility with ease. However, it is when Fair To Midland break free from their normal song structure that the band truly shines. The schizophrenic ‘Rikki Tikki Tavi’ is a thrash/folk/metal/ambient masterpiece and is easily the heaviest song on the record. In fact, it is the perfect advertisement for Fair To Midland’s song writing talent – joining polar opposite influences together into the same song. Similarly, the brilliant ‘Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow’ sees the band introduce bluegrass elements (complete with banjos and washboards) into their more traditional hard rock sound, complete with a pretty nifty solo from guitarist Cliff Campbell. While the aforementioned tracks are a little different to what Fair To Midland have put to record before, they succeed because they’re still catchy and accessible.

Aside from the album being noticeably heavier, it is also worth noting that keyboardist Matt Langley has a greater role on Arrows and Anchors. Tracks such as ‘Musical Chairs’ and 10 minute closer ‘The Greener Grass’ are examples of this, with Langley’s keys being one of the driving forces of the songs. ‘The Greener Grass’ is again something new for the quintet, easily being the longest song they’ve ever written and featuring one of the more beautiful build ups on the album. Meanwhile, the more atmospheric ‘A Loophole In Limbo’ is easily one of the best songs of the year, again seeing a prominent use of keys.

After four years of waiting, Arrows and Anchors most definitely lives up to the lofty expectations of it. Fair to Midland’s heavier sound and vastly improved instrumentation have given rise to one of the more original rock records in recent times. In fact, Arrows and Anchors will undoubtedly be one of the albums of the year; such is the quality and originality of the song writing. Arrows and Anchors is a stunning return from one of America’s most important and original modern rock bands.



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user ratings (751)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jacob R. STAFF (2.5)
Relying on a blueprint that's inherently flawed is never the best idea....

thatdudeud0ntknow (5)
Fantastically weird and wonderfully wacky, Fair to Midland’s latest LP is no doubt one of the best...

Mike Stagno EMERITUS (4)
Arrows & Anchors isn't quite as instant as its predecessors, but it flourishes with repeated listeni...

John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF (4.5)
This is what listening to a bands "magnum opus" sounds like. Maybe...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Vooligan
July 10th 2011



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok so something went wrong there. Mods fix it up?


Streams here anyway, http://www.radiometal.com/en/article/preview-fair-to-midland-hits-the-target,36702

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2011



6937 Comments


This another Australian group? Seems to be your style Vool.

someguest
July 10th 2011



20285 Comments


It's the ampersand. People should know by now not to include them in album titles.

Digging: Your Old Droog - Your Old Droog

DDconjoined
July 10th 2011



326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FtM from Texas man,

Vooligan
July 10th 2011



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Eh, i didnt create the album page.

Masochist
July 10th 2011



7961 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I did. I'll change it; we'll get a mod to combine the two.

someguest
July 10th 2011



20285 Comments


I know you didn't, I'm just letting you know why the problem was created.

The review is good and I agree with a lot of points. However, I think the instrumental pieces are a waste of space, and the production is lacking for me. It kind of makes all of the songs sound the same - which is fine I guess - but every track on their previous release had it's own unique quality. And the closer just dragged along for me.

Pos'd.

Crowe
July 10th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

this is bad

zxlkho
July 10th 2011



3460 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree that the production is lacking. That and Riki Tiki are the only bad things about the album imo. Everything else was pretty good. Gets a 4/5 from me.

Vooligan
July 10th 2011



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys.

I actually really like the production. Although, its a little hard to tell from the stream. Can see how some wouldnt like the instrumental tracks, i thought they were nice though.

someguest
July 10th 2011



20285 Comments


I actually have a copy of this on a compact disc. Also, it might be the fact that I've heard the demos for years now that took away some of the impact of the album.

handoman
July 10th 2011



2386 Comments


did it lek

Masochist
July 10th 2011



7961 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also, it might be the fact that I've heard the demos for years now that took away some of the impact of the album.


I can't say the same. I've been listening to "Musical Chairs" for ages now, but when the album version was released, it gained a power I didn't realize it had.

Vooligan
July 10th 2011



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, i've had the demos for ages too. Still haven't decided if i like the album versions more yet, especially for loophole.

Handoman, yah.

AnotherBrick
July 10th 2011



9770 Comments


woooahhh hell ya. completely forgot this was coming

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
July 10th 2011



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so fucking pumped for this, streaming it now

fsharptrit0ne
July 10th 2011



4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album owns. This is gonna grow on me so much.

someguest
July 10th 2011



20285 Comments


The second track is the best on the album. Just a heads up.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2011



2634 Comments


They had instrumental tracks on Fables, too, but they weren't individual tracks -- they just kind of segued into the next track (kind of like how on Songs for the Deaf you can rewind from the first track to get a new song). They add a bit of transition, sure, but I agree that they don't deserve their own cuts.

Not as good as Fables, but still pretty damn good. Nice review.

Vooligan
July 10th 2011



3541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Jom.

Personally, Golden Parachutes is my favourite. I just love the 'Where to find you' bit.



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