Fair to Midland
Arrows and Anchors


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
July 15th, 2011 | 555 replies | 61,333 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Arrows & Anchors isn't quite as instant as its predecessors, but it flourishes with repeated listening.

As far as first impressions go, it was hard to make out exactly which direction Fair to Midland were trying to take on Arrows & Anchors. When I caught them live back in March, they played quite a few new tracks which came off as more intense than anything the band has done in a good ten years. But the Fair to Midland you hear on record is different from the raw, spastic creature that performs on stage. While live renditions of tracks like "Upgrade^Brigade," "April Fools and Eggman," and even "Walls of Jericho" were heavy rockers, in the studio they became more pristine and expressive (particularly on Fables From a Mayfly…). It was a completely different experience that traded in some of the frantic elements of the band's live show with a more immersive sound.

In many respects, Arrows & Anchors is a natural progression from Fables From a Mayfly; it attempts to bridge these two themes together, and for the most part, it does so rather seamlessly. After a short interlude, "Whiskey & Ritalin" kicks the album off with deceptively thrashy riffing before transitioning into a more melodic piece reminiscent of material off Fables From a Mayfly. Likewise, "Rikki Tikki Tavi" is a throwback to the band's alternative metal sound found on The Carbon Copy Silver Lining, but still incorporates soothing, lullaby-eqsue choruses, which make for a nice contrast. And while that's about as overtly metallic as Arrows & Anchors, it's still a louder record than one might expect. Still, the mellower flavour the band seemed to be trending towards on the previous record (as exemplified by the likes of "The Wife, the Kids, and the White Picket Fence" or "Say When") leave their mark on Arrows & Anchors. "Short-Haired Tornado" and "A Loophole in Limbo" aren't as immediate as their heavy rock counterparts, but they're built on the kind of immersive soundscapes and cryptic lyrical work that flourish with repeated listening.

If the album sounds a little conservative, well… it is. But Fair to Midland do step outside their comfort zone on occasion. "Amarillo Sleeps on My Pillow" and "The Greener Grass" are the more obvious standouts; the former opens with a unique folksy swagger, while the latter experiments with more longwinded, progressive elements. "The Greener Grass" utilizes the group's penchant for quiet/loud dynamics, particularly in its soaring choruses wherein vocalist Darroh Sudderth best displays his wide vocal range. Matt Langley enjoys a greater presence than in the past, such as in the dance-y, keyboard-heavy "Coppertank Island." Moments such as these aren't revolutionary, but they make for a nice change of pace that keeps Arrows & Anchors from becoming redundant. This isn't apparent right away, as Arrows & Anchors isn't quite as instant as its predecessors. However, its hidden nuances become more apparent with each listen, and it's this replay value that is Fair to Midland's greatest strength.



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user ratings (758)
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...

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

Billy (4.5)
Beautiful, original and crushing, all at the same time. Arrows and Anchors is one of the best releas...


Comments:Add a Comment 
themainmast
July 16th 2011



247 Comments


nice review. arrows and anchors is an album i've been repeatedly listening to.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
July 16th 2011



10593 Comments


This is the third feature for this, IDK what to think now


mvood
July 16th 2011



818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is like Mew going hard rock

TheLodge
July 16th 2011



40 Comments


^^ that sounds pretty cool.

iTechTonic
July 16th 2011



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i just checked out this album and it is actually pretty awesome...love the track "coppertank island"....

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2011



16087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

lol god am i right when it comes to this album

mvood
July 16th 2011



818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this does need a lot of listens until it clicks imo.

Yazz_Flute
July 16th 2011



18779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Review is on point.

Digging: Eskaton - 4 Visions

tomr4
July 16th 2011



192 Comments


this is the album dredg should have made.

Phideaux
July 16th 2011



1654 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules. Definitely a grower.

FearThyEvil
July 16th 2011



12540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album was amazing. These guys are slowly creeping into becoming one of my favorite bands.

fromtheinside
July 16th 2011



18171 Comments


hanson lied to me

Digging: Young Widows - Easy Pain

Crowe
July 16th 2011



435 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

For real. This sucks.

toolpeth182
July 17th 2011



190 Comments


this is really good. some of it sounds strangely familiar though..

renegadestrings
July 17th 2011



1441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i understand the comparisons to dredg, but they're completely different. dredg doesn't perform heavy tracks like the ones present here... not anymore at least.

album rules

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2011



15949 Comments


oh okaay. i'll give this the rating it deserves

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Tyrael
July 17th 2011



20866 Comments


Oh wow I didn't know Mike Stagno was still active

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 17th 2011



15949 Comments


he just wrote a review a couple weeks ago lol

Tyrael
July 17th 2011



20866 Comments


Working isn't really affecting my brain in a positive way it seems

UrsusVeritas
July 17th 2011



81 Comments


lol some idiot actually took the time to rick roll people who mediafired this, hahahhah.



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