Falling Up fans, the times are changing. Those who heard the last release, Captiva, will not be entirely surprised by this move. While still maintaining a hard rocking edge, Captiva was decidedly more airy and mellow than the band's early work. New release Fangs takes Jessy Ribordy and friends further in this direction. Anyone expecting something similar to Crashings or Dawn Escapes will probably be disappointed. Those who are ready to hear something new will find an album that is pleasantly artistic.
To begin, Fangs is first and foremost a concept album. Every track is completely devoted to the story, and nothing musically or lyrically separates any particular track from the overarching theme. What is the theme? In essence, Fangs is a fantasy/science fiction story. Once, in a land similar to ours, the people discovered that their children wore poisoned cloth, destined to kill them. So, the people tied all the threads together, attached them to a thousand golden arrows, and launched these arrows towards the faraway planet Neptuenn. Then, thousands of years later, the people of the city were horrified to awake one day and find all of their children had been struck by giant arrows. One thing lead to another, and a traveler was sent to Neptuenn to find out who was responsible for this tragedy. This is the premise of Fangs.
The twelve tracks on Fangs presume to tell the story of this traveler and what he discovers about Neptuenn and his own planet. The lyrics are full of poetic imagery and fairy tale descriptions. More than anything, they perfectly accompany the atmosphere set by the music. Unfortunately, the actual circumstances of the story are not clear at all. Ribordy's abstract poeticism is on full display here, and it is difficult to discern any solid facts about the story. In some cases, the songs introduce new vocabulary and then provide a note with an explanation. For example, a "green lift," mentioned in "Streams Of Woe At Acheron" is "a way of abstracting poison from the skin." Even so, the listener should expect some degree of confusion.
What about the music? For a practical comparison, the listener can expect the style of older tracks like "Captiva" and "How They Made Cameras," but even more so. Clearly the music was written to reflect that sci-fi/fantasy atmosphere of the story. There are lots of keyboards and ethereal sounds on display. Most of the tracks are fairly slow-paced and reflective. The overall feel of the album is significantly mellower than previous releases. The only tracks featuring guitar work similar to what we heard on older albums are "The Moon And Sixpence" and "Goddess Of The Dayspring," both of which are strong efforts. This change is by no means a bad thing. While getting more reserved, Falling Up has become more melodic and sensitive. Tracks like "Magician Reversed" and "A Colour Eoptian" will surely find you singing along after the first couple of listens. Interestingly, "Panic And Geo-Primaries" recycles the chorus of "Arch To Archtilles" from Captiva. It took several listens for this album to grow on me, but all in all, I find the music to be consistently excellent. It is definitely different, but there is much to appreciate here.
Fangs is an experience more than anything. Deeply artistic, it has very few weak tracks. Songs like "Goddess Of The Dayspring" are sure to please any fan, while old Falling Up fans will probably need some time to get used to this new incarnation of the band. The story is appropriately fantastical, but unfortunately confusing. In conclusion, Fangs represents a more mature, thoughtful Falling Up that is different, but excellent.- Review date: 3/12/09, PReview date: 3/4/09, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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