Review Summary: Sting's son's band creates a record that, while pleasing on a per-song basis, crumples under the weight of its overwhelmingly pessimistic lyrics.
Fiction Plane frontman Joe Sumner is clearly his father's son, though he clearly hasn't fully reached the potential that being Sting's son holds. Everything Will Never Be OK
, his band Fiction Plane's first album, is ultimately a joyless affair, devoid of any of the humor (or jazz influences) that permeated his father's early work. Instead, we get a pretty straightforward album, devoid of any emotion other than the dreary, angry cynicism that Sumner's lyrics bring.
The lyrical content throughout remains pretty much the same: Sumner is really disillusioned and depressed about it. The album title (and title track) say it all: he doesn't feel like there's any hope -- for anything. "I wish I would die today," he declares on track 6, "I Wish I Would Die." There's a strange outing called "Cigarette," in which a boy is excited with a new romantic prospect -- though naturally, it ends up with him telling her to "F*** yourself and f*** your cigarettes." He even hates haters. In one of the best songs on the album, "Hate," he mockingly decries those who find themselves "cool" and "different" because they "hate things." The only reprieve from all this pessimism comes with the track "Fallow," which is undoubtedly the best track on the album. On the acoustic-driven track, Sumner declares that he has "seen better days; there will be better days... Despairing can't find it's place here." It's odd that "Fallow" appears halfway through the album, though, sandwiched on both sides by oppressive angst. It would have found a better place as a hopeful coda to the album. Unfortunately, though, the album's sole moment of hope is squeezed into a disappointingly insignificant moment.
That's not to say, of course, that Everything Will Never Be OK
is a bad album. It's actually filled with quite a few great songs, though when packed alongside the rest of the dreary songs on the album, they all become monotonous. The twangy guitars of "Listen to My Babe" and "Soldier Machismo" are interesting compared to the otherwise straightforward approach of the song, while the ultimately strange closing track, "Wise," has a hidden bonus track that might just be the most upbeat on the album (in terms of tempo, naturally -- the refrain sees Sumner singing, "Don't tell me that you fight for principles when you fight for yourself").
Sumner's voice sounds like a thinner version of Sting's, with a slightly higher timbre but similar delivery. He's doomed to be compared to Sting simply because they're related, but with Everything Will Never Be OK
, he and his band craft an album that's sonically and lyrically different from anything that Sting has ever done. One can't help but wish, though, that the album had carried more of a reprieve from the overwhelming, heavy-handed pessimism of its lyrics. Having a few happier songs to balance out the album would have certainly been OK.