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Fin Fang Foom: Texture, Structure and the Condition of Moods

REVIEW: Fin Fang Foom: Texture, Structure and the Condition of Moods
1.17.2002 by Sean

Fin Fang Foom : Texture, Structure and the Condition of Moods [Lovitt Records, 2001]

Two words? Singing math-rock?

It would only be a bit of an exaggeration to say that "The Fool and the Feign", the opening track on this trio's debut album, explodes out of the stereo. The disc bursts into life with a scratching guitar that recalls the Dismemberment Plan at their sharpest: bass, guitar and drums jumble and jangle, eventually flowing into an ambient middle section where one can almost hear a flute sidling in. Unfortunately, while vocalist Eddie Sanchez's energetic vocals are at first pleasant enough, they quickly begin to whine and grate. By the time we hit "Warriors! Come Out and Play", the tough-boy word-pounding comes off as punk posturing or nu-metal vapidity. The words ("...mutilation..." Sanchez whinges) don't improve when draped with lilting piano on "Crying, But Without Tears", and the tight math-rock that underlies most of the songs is seriously undercut by melodramatic singing - like a WWF wrestler making speeches over a Weights & Measures concert.

The rhythmic pulsing of the drums, however, and the dextrous chord progressions - the repetition, the change, and the return - is stimulating, and actually rocks. From an instrumental point of view, Fin Fang Foom is successful at breeding layered, textured harmonics and varied timbre. On "Blue Holes" they weave in piano, reminiscent of some of Moby's early experiments, twisting surprising bass-lines and mathy progressions around the vocals of the song. Nevertheless, the singer's voice tires the listener, and as Chavez isn't saying anything worth hearing ("Look at you now! You look like shit!"), the song's impact is seriously undercut. The monotonous, same-sounding vocals also bring attention to a similar flaw in some of the instrumental tracks, and FFF could do to work on a touch more tonal variety.

If we can put aside the vocal track (which is hard to do), Fin Fang Foom have produced a good, loud album, at once complex and thematic, whose musical constructions are strong enough that we can expect a deeper, more sonically diverse follow-up release, one which may surpass the "fair", into the "excellent".

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