Review Summary: To remain intact, don't retract, STAY on track.
“Control” surges in earnest with a mesmerising narrative reflecting relatable anxiety. It is the type of anxiety that obsessively seeks stability. In this vulnerable state, personal conflicts persistently stalk. This wearying ordeal teeters towards an exit that possesses the hallmarks of a mirage. Nestling on this backdrop, melancholic content glistens, thriving on infectious tunes and a supple, flowery voice. This is beautiful vintage-tinged electronic pop with hooks akin to Wild Beasts.
Paul Dixon (aka Fyfe) intimately unfastens thoughts before the onset of a noose’s throttle. Such simple sincerity ruptures elaborate denials and downplaying of topics that usually leave a streak of red to crawl across your face. Fyfe’s visceral, tender vocals sidestep the pitfalls of confessional lyrics that tend to strong-arm empathy. Remarkably, instead of being grating, the repetition of “everything I do, for you” is upended into a funky groove that struts away, towards the end, with an unexpected saxophone solo that imbues ‘For You’ with romanticism. Meanwhile, ‘In Waves’ the eponymous chorus drifts in a tranquil tide of layered vocals accompanied by the slow stroll of a remote, minimalistic piano. It is a testament to the overwhelming outpour love can prompt.
Fyfe’s soothing music facilitates pleasurable musing which would ordinarily border on neurotic. Opener ‘Conversations’ deftly illustrates the disarray of replaying dialogue from a momentous occasion that has been marred. The gravity of this situation is underlined by the dramatic stab of piano keys, rustling movement, and the “oohing” of a muffled moan.
Entrapment is a prevalent theme in Control, stellar track ‘Solace’ depressingly alludes to its intrusive presence “Right to my bones, yes my sinew shook”. However, this bleakness is softened with a glorious chorus of acceptance. Similarly (in lyrical tone) ‘Holding On’ encapsulates the gnawing sensation of insomnia prompted by restless thoughts, and a wistful sense of being misunderstood. It powerfully resonates by pinpointing the fear of losing what you have.
Revelling in experimentation, ‘Polythene Love’ is marked by repeatedly ringing, giddy harpy synths. It is a naively innocent song of strong duality. Dixon’s voice is mirrored by a female voice; the constant flit between these two playfully depicts the artificiality of their affection. This perfectly counters the proceeding track ‘For You’ which explores the alternative - being genuine!
The tantalising ‘St Tropez’ displays the true extent of Dixon’s falsetto which converges nonchalant chords, sweeping orchestral, and an outburst of “oohing” that retreats whilst still being unmistakable.
Despite Fyfe’s variety, each song is ironically similar. Each deviation can be traced back to the same origin epitomising the central premise of Control: to cope with innumerable situations, whilst staying intact. The closing of this invigorating album is a stark reminder that joy is transient, and therefore, should be savoured.