Another great band to call Milwaukee home, Faux Fir, have released a new LP, Fashionable Life, at the beginning of November. In 2011, Faux Fir had the cards stacked against them. With producer, Ryan Weber, in Africa and guitarist/keyboardist, Adam Bartell, in Portland, the remaining three pieces to the puzzle pursued new (and old) projects in Wisconsin. It became difficult to collaborate, but technology came through. Not wanting to miss a beat, the band continued working with the now international Ryan Weber. From Kenyan upload limits to 16 day power outages, the band slowly pieced together 2013’s Fashionable Life.
Fashionable Life opens with the energy and electronic weirdness of Animal Collective. “Disclaimer: They Will Eat Our Cotton Candy Brains” is a light, laser-filled song. Coming in at a little over a minute-and-a-half, it’s a quick introduction to the album, but a perfect lead-in to second track, “Spring Sore”. Bouncy and synth-filled tracks follow. Fashionable Life‘s first single, “Failure Prose”, is a free-spirited pop explosion, and with this track, the group brings these tendencies to the dance floor. Faux Fir’s interpretation of a Latin beat leads into “Scream Chair”, a personal top pick. It even slips into an easy-going, tropical bridge for a while after a collision of voices and synth.
“The Windings” is filled with awesome moments. It doesn’t start off much different from their other tunes, but a light orchestral chorus offers a side of Faux Fir I haven’t seen before. Quirky vocal harmonies make a short-lived appearance, and then the synth solo begins. You get totally wrapped up in it, and then the key changes, like four times, and damn. More eloquently stated, “The Windings” wraps up with one doozy of an electronic jam.
“Compact Disco” is totally enjoyable, but at some point it slips into a different mood entirely. For a few minutes, there’s a brief respite from the layers upon layers of electronic instrumentation. It’s almost eerie, like you’ve been to a club and you have a moment where you’re outside of your body and observing everything in slow-motion. And then, ever so slowly, you snap back to your senses, and “Compact Disco” is kicking just as much ass as it was when you slipped off.
It’s still isn’t entirely clear to me when Fashionable Life ends. Last track, “Other Plans”, begins with soft piano and is very much like a lullaby. Deep, repetitive electronic surges are strangely calming in this track, accompanied by delicate keys. And then, just like that, it’s gone. Over. Fashionable Life is one of those albums, though, where I keep listening after the song has ended before I realize what’s really happened and how.
This LP might be the very definition of electropop, but its staying power comes from their ability to balance the album. Some songs are high-energy with catchy, old school synth pieces, whereas others slip into easy-going, light parts. Ryan Rupprecht’s high vocal stylings grace the LP; admittedly they took a second to get used to, but they mesh so well in songs like “Failure Prose” and “Astrochondria” that it’s difficult not to enjoy. Add in a dash of key changes with a smattering of tempo changes, and Fashionable Life is everything I could wish for in an LP.
Faux Fir has the energy of Grouplove before Grouplove lost what made them so memorable. Fashionable Life is absolutely infectious and easy to love. For all the time that went into recording and releasing this album, I say that it has been well worth the wait.