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Fairgrove: Good Luck

REVIEW: Fairgrove: Good Luck
9.8.2002 by Esther

Fairgrove: Good Luck [Montesano, 2001]

Three words? noisy mood music

Lead singer Jay Harrison's voice takes some getting used to, part growl and part moan, texture of frayed ends of jeans and the rough grain of wood. It murmurs through the opening of "Choral Accompaniment" before rising to abrasive wood splintering fever pitch on the lines, "all the things that you never saw, you never saw... completely gone." The keyboards swell and the drums clatter, and then as Harrison sings "completely lost," the smoke settles and his voice dwindles to a whisper.

Good Luck is filled with perfect moments such as this. Fairgrove never let themselves settle into traditional pop song patterns (chorus, play guitar riff, chorus, etc). Instead, their music cracks and groans with life - even after many listens. I can never remember where their songs are going, or where they will end up. Michael Graham on guitar lets the feedback fade in and out, Chris Vandebooke's drum signatures match the rhythm of Harrison's voice, and Harrison playing keyboard lets it rise and fall in the background, often to beautiful effect as in "Gated Communities."

Good Luck's songs range from more poppy emo ("Bad Apfel", "Mono") to radio-worthy guitar rock ("Epic Ending"), making it an album of great scope. Listening to Fairgrove is like lifting creaky old floor boards, or finding that trapdoor into the loft. New discoveries are made upon each visit, such as the sunny swirl of keyboards in "Gated Communities," the delicious way Harrison sings the words "bad apfel," the ethereal humming in "Mono," and the whirring at the end of "Calm Siege" which sounds like a barn caught in a blizzard, as well as the epic ending of, er, "Epic Ending".

Despite my obvious love of Fairgrove, this is not a CD I will just pop into my stereo every time I'm in "music! must-have-music!" mode, in fact, I doubt I will even play it very often. Good Luck is an old house or barn where the foundations rattle with wind, imprint of footprints on the dusty floorboards, rotten fruit in the apple trees, but also a warm streak of light which darts through the broken windows. Harrison's voice haunts this place, sometimes a beautiful banshee wail but often a poltergeist battering the walls, overturning chairs and tables, and straining to be set free.

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