Fair to Midland, Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

Fair to Midland, Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True

Fair to Midland were discovered by System Of A Down singer Serj Tankian while on tour; apparently, their live shows are sick, with tons of chops and energy. The album reflects the chops but less of the energy, sort of how Jethro Tull never came across on their albums compared to their live shows. But don’t worry, prog-heads: there’s more than enough ear-candy here for the most woodshed-y amongst us.

Musically, this album is strong. I love the interplay between the piano and guitar, like the beginning of “Kyla Cries Cologne.” There’s a ton of heavy jamming as well — “Seafarer’s Knot” slams together heavy bottom-end riffing with arpeggiated musical weaving of a delayed guitar with fleet-fingered piano. “A Wolf Decends” sounds like something you would hear during the hero’s montage right before the third act in Beastmaster 2.

Singer Darroh Sudderth is dynamic and controlled, reminiscent of a talented Paul Stanley(?) when singing in his upper register, a serious undiscovered talent. Sudderth has a quirky warble, almost like a minstrel on some of the tracks (“The Wife, the Kids”). Let’s hope he doesn’t overdo it, like Kevin Martin did (look it up). The drums are sick; I’m really amazed that they aren’t programmed. I don’t know if that’s my problem or the fault of producers for overusing Beat Detective like their first Penthouse.

Make no mistake — this is about as prog as you can get without resorting to instrumental wankery and self-indulgence, but there’s more than enough here for musicians to sink their teeth into. The arrangements are impeccable, every sound is perfect, the mix and mastering are wonderful…

…and it all works, but…

…in the immortal words of Jeremy Clarkson, I want Fair to Midland to reach down the front of my trousers and rummage around a bit. Fables just doesn’t grab you like it should. It isn’t simple, but it is a bit soulless. On the other hand, I feel this way about most prog music, so your mileage might vary. My musician friends love it, others find it ponderous. I’m somewhere in the middle: a strong musical statement, but missing that shouty bit.
I want the shouty bit.

(Universal Republic Records -- 1755 Broadway, New York, NY. 10019; http://www.universalrecords.com/; Serjical Strike Records -- 1901 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Santa Monica, CA. 90405; http://www.serjicalstrike.com/; Fair to Midland -- http://www.fairtomidland.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, May 1st, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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