Fair to Midland
Arrows and Anchors


2.5
average

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
July 4th, 2012 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Relying on a blueprint that's inherently flawed is never the best idea.

Arrows and Anchors frustrates me.

Maybe this is because I want it to be something else, or because I want Fair to Midland to be someone else. I wish that they'd evolve into the monumental musicians that they clearly want to be, or that they were a couple years ago. The group's latest offering Fables From a Mayfly was a rousing success from one corner to the next, never failing to rattle and shake, and each song always possessed an air of vitality. The tracks' chorus-oriented nature didn't impact the quality of the less recognizable moments, for even when the lights dimmed the group took their audience away.

Now the ground is shifting between the spectators' feet. Arrows and Anchors is a complete realization of the flawed concept that all necessary for a powerful song is a powerful chorus. We see it time and time again; "Golden Parachute" has a brilliant chorus, but what exactly took place during the rest of the track? Although I've heard the track several times at this point, I still couldn't say. It certainly doesn't feel new, though, and certainly not vital from a songwriting perspective. It's as if Fair to Midland are paying attention only to their anthemic choruses, and aren't spending much time polishing the less blatant moments in their music. Sure, acoustic guitars emerge occasionally to feign evolution, but the truth is that the only song on Arrows and Anchors that's memorable is "The Greener Grass". What a closer - for being obscenely long, it does everything right. The song is dreamy throughout its ten-minute runtime, switching between a truly heartfelt chorus and a stirring verse with ease. The song's filled to the brim with importance, as well - a key trait that Arrows and Anchors lacks as a whole.

The problem surfaces with even the song structures, merely from a superficial standpoint. There's an underlying blueprint at work, a plan that clearly states the uncertain beginnings of each song. Each track is guaranteed to stumble a bit further, and the verse will waddle by awkwardly, but not without Darroh's attempts at recussitation through revamping a commonplace phrase in his lyrics. Regardless of what advice our berserk frontman possesses for cats that happen to have been killed by curiosity, though, clever wordplay means little alone. Sudderth's faint whisperings means little in "Short-Haired Tornado" when placed alongside a meaningless shuffling drum beat and flippant tambourine, and a guitar riff without proper backup. Then again, everything comes together in the chorus, as if to almost reward the listener for being so patient.

There's nothing wrong with desiring an anthem to bring everyone together. This album's chock-full of them, as well as plenty of quotes that are hard to forget. However, from a structural standpoint Arrows and Anchors is inherently flawed. The most refreshing parts are the interludes, the lulls that only begin to mix the pot in an exciting direction before disappointingly flickering out. The next time you feel the need to revisit this album, I suggest you take the time to notice each and every turn it takes. There are some highly questionable decisions on Fair to Midland's behalf with this one, and for an album that wants to say so much it certainly doesn't leave a mark.



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user ratings (764)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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...

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 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


10359 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

I've been thinking about this album all day, and I just wanted to put my thoughts into words. I doubt there are many that agree with me, but there are so many more important things to worry about.

MichaelSnoxall
July 4th 2012


12163 Comments


You know they had two full length albums released before Fables..., right?


Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


10359 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Ah, whoops. Forgot about that first one *hovers over edit button*

Thanks man!

Wombat988
July 4th 2012


389 Comments


I read this review in Anthony Fantano's voice

ZedO
July 4th 2012


1096 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

only heard few songs, it is such a nice album though. a bit disagree with the rating

have a pos

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
July 4th 2012


50864 Comments


Is this good or what

Digging: Bobby Barnett - Little Wounds

heyadam
July 4th 2012


1718 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really good review, but I completely disagree.

still, pos.

Digging: Casey Crescenzo - Amour and Attrition

MichaelSnoxall
July 4th 2012


12163 Comments


it's a pretty awesome album.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


7318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

RIKKI TIKKI RIKKI TIKKI TAVIIIIIIIIIIIIII RIKKI TIKKI RIKKI TIKKI TAVIIIIIIIIIIIIII RIKKI TIKKI RIKKI TIKKI TAVIIIIIIIIIIIIII RIKKI TIKKI RIKKI TIKKI TAVIIIIIIIIIIIIII RIKKI TIKKI RIKKI TIKKI TAVIIIIIIIIIIIIII

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Tyrael
July 4th 2012


20945 Comments


It seems like Irving has finally gone insane

Digging: Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

Rev
July 4th 2012


9439 Comments


I figured I'd hate this, but they did write a song called Rikki Tikki Tavi. i can't hate that



anyway, great review man

cheecheeconeleche
July 4th 2012


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Suck my balls

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


10359 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

"I read this review in Anthony Fantano's voice" Lmao! Don't do that to me, man! ;]

Thanks to everyone else.

And cheecheeconeleche, so glad you finally decided to post your first comment, and in such a meaningful manner

paxman
July 4th 2012


4084 Comments


Finally someone who agrees with me about this.

Wheelah
July 4th 2012


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, but I completely disagree on a fundamental level. I feel like Fables was WAY more chorus oriented than this album, though both are awesome. Also I don't consider that a fault, and it's not like they just abandoned the non chorus parts.

I realize everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but your opinion is wrong.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


10359 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Youre right dude, sorry, I will not do so in the futures

Cipieron
July 4th 2012


3508 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good review, i pos'd


and hey, to each his own.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 4th 2012


10359 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

Thanks, dude ^_^ really appreciate it.

LifeAsAChipmunk
July 4th 2012


4854 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Omaha for Contributor 2012!!!

Nice review, I'll probably like this. I'll check it out soon.

afergusonart
July 4th 2012


220 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good review, sorry you don't enjoy it that much.



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