Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Review: Fightstar - Be Human

A few weeks back, a friend of a friend mentioned the new single by Fightstar, "Mercury Summer", having just been played on Radio 1. I asked him what it was like. He replied "kind've upbeat and positive". I checked it out straight away, and wow. This was a poppier Fightstar for sure, and it got me very interested in the new album.

Kicking off with the dark, cinematic "Calling On All Stations", it's clear to hear that that this record is going to be a big one, and this tone is continued on "The English Way", which features lots of strings, and a wonderfully huge chorus.

Things take a turn for the dark with "War Machine", but then Fightstar do a complete 180, and bring out "Never Change", a Cure-esque upbeat pop song, with additional cowbell. Even the slightly upbeat nature of Mercury Summer couldn't prepare for this, although it is a great song, which a strange contrast to the darkness of the previous track, but it's this wrong-footedness that actually kind of works. Definite single material, and possibly the closest the band have come to frontman Charlie Simpson's previous band.

Things stay upbeat with "Colours Bleed To Red", with its absolutely killer chorus. The only downside to this track are the slightly cringey verses, which are a bit too over-dramatic for the tone of song, with lyrics about "jumping the bridge" sung in a weird half-shouting distorted fashion. This takes something away from the song as a whole, which is a shame, as this song could have been another great single for the band.

"Whisperer" kicks in next, with it's chilled out guitars and harmonica. This track almost, ALMOST, seems like it was influenced by Panic at the Disco's recent record, with the whole track taking a bit of a summery, almost funky, rock direction. It features yet another great chorus, and leads nicely into "Mercury Summer", which slots in beautifully.

Things take a turn for the epic again, with the huge, sweeping "Give Me The Sky", leading into the dark "Chemical Blood", which is a wonderfully epic song, only let down by a brief screaming breakdown, which just isn't required in a track like this. "Tonight We Burn" takes a brief trip into synth-pop territory, with another great upbeat chorus, and then we get back into the orchestral side of things with "Damocles", which features a fantastically heavy breakdown.

The album closes off with the beautiful "Follow Me Into The Darkness", which is very, very Bon Iver-esque, but with it's subtle synths and gentle vocals, it's given just enough character of it's own to close off the album in a gentle way.

Overall, Fightstar has created a cinematic work of art with this record, treading a neat line between poppy and epic, but still keeping their trademark dark sound for the majority of the album. The only real letdown are the occasional heavy screaming breakdowns, and the occasionaly cringeworthy lyric, but for 95% of the time, this album keeps you hooked. It's got the singles to bring in new fans, and the substance to keep the fanbase happy.

As Daniel Mount says, and I quote verbatim, "The new fightstar album is fucking awesome...."


Here's the video for "Mercury Summer"

Be Human is out now from the Internet Record Shops, the Real Life Record Shops, and the Imaginery Music Shops.

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