Review Summary: A flawed yet thoroughly enjoyable debut outing.
With such a multitude of bizarre sounds and obscure genres prevalent in music nowadays, it can occasionally be refreshing to hear a band that revels in simplicity. With nay an innovative bone in their body, Fighting Fiction exemplify this approach to making music, but to this point their lack of creative expansion hasn't proved prohibitive in the slightest. They don't bother indulging in any forms of self-serving pretense or outlandish experimentation, they merely play the type of anthemic, heart-on-sleeve punk rock that they've presumably grown up enjoying, and for the most part it's a pretty great proposition for the rest of us too. Repeatedly delayed, yet no less welcome, this debut full-length provides an engrossing showcase of that back-to-basics ethic, and with a little luck could see the Brighton quartet become a big hit among those who share their ideology.
Kicking off with the feverish one-two punch of 'Amazing Grace' and 'Rock And Roll Is Dead And Its Corpse Is For Sale,' Fighting Fiction
wastes no time in placing it's cards on the table, setting out in the same direct aggressive manner that initially got them noticed. Recalling the no thrills ethos of The Clash, as well as the earnest everyman appeal of Frank Turner, the duo succeed no end in delivering a purposeful, and above all thrilling beginning to proceedings, and there's plenty more where they came from. The likes of 'Growing Heroes' and 'Cameraphones & Choruses,' for instance, possess similar ounces of thrust and are no less entertaining, while even slightly lesser numbers such as 'Make Yourself A Martyr' get by through sheer belligerence. It's nothing new, and it's certainly nothing flash, but the vast majority of their debut sees the band execute their trade with plenty of success.
With such limited ambitions, it's ironic that this record's finest moment is also the only point at which it shows any desire for variety. Ever since Strummer & co. opened the doors on London Calling, it's become something of a cliche for punk bands to incorporate elements of reggae into their music, but in the case of 'No Room At The Inn' the transition sounds completely natural. It's nothing earth shattering, and is by no means one of the best songs lyrically, but the confidence and apparent ease with which they pull it off is impressive nonetheless.
As you may have guessed from the tone, Fighting Fiction
is a debut that's solid rather than spectacular, and while their hearts are without doubt in the right place there can be little argument that their sound has its limitations. As well as the obvious issues with diversity, something that's occasionally noticeable is a lack of any real muscle from the four-piece. One or two of these songs could do with a little fleshing out, and although that should come in time as they inevitably grow as musicians, it is for now a factor that obstructs their path towards true excellence. With this in mind, it's curious that they've chosen to omit early single 'We Will Not Forget' - arguably their strongest song, if not from a musical perspective then certainly from a songwriting one. Such cracks do unfortunately prevent this debut from being an entirely fulfilling experience, yet the prospect of future brilliance is a compelling one, and although it hasn't quite reared its head, Fighting Fiction can sleep well in the knowledge that they've given themselves a sound base from which to build.