Friday, October 24, 2008

Fake Problems - 'How Far Our Bodies Go'

[I just realized I never finished putting up my old reviews for Wonka Vision, City Paper, and such. So uh... here's some more oldies.]

If nothing else, Florida folk-punk band Fake Problems deserves credit for the quickest turnaround (in possibly) ever. You see, the first 23 seconds or so of the group’s full-length debut, How Far Our Bodies Go, suck. Hard. Frontman Chris Farren is not the strongest vocalist out there and, as he sings a call and response with a chorus over some strummed guitar on the album’s eponymous opener, he sounds like he’s trying to break free from the strangulated shackles of pre-pubescence (which is a dickhead way of saying he’s sort of out of his range). But after this false start, rest assured, How Far Our Bodies Go shifts up from “suck” to “dangerously awesome” for the remainder of its 36-minute running time.

From the second track (”Born & Raised”) to the closing thirteenth one (”Para Tur”), How Far Our Bodies Go serves up the best punk rock hoedown of 2007. Existing somewhere between Against Me! and Social Distortion, Fake Problems pick up and drop instruments like organ, fiddle, glockenspiel and horns on a whim, allowing the band to experiment with its songs without being restricted to any given instrumental style.

“Born & Raised,” in which main problem child Farren weighs joining the army versus going back to college, is furious and quick, but it still finds time to slip in some organ and background “boo-booo”s to sweeten the song. “Maestro of This Rebellious Symphony” switches out the organ for some fiddle and horn mix, and it’s just as delicious.

One of the beautiful things about what punk is (supposed to be), is that it is a genre open to experimentation and free association. Fake Problems do just that. You wanna hear a 30-second song about astronauts written for a strumstick? Check out “Astronaut.” You wanna hear a lovelorn, frenetic folk-punk tune segue into a “preprise” of another song that’s two tracks away for no reason? Put on the romper-stomper “Crest on the Chest.” In the mood for an epic album centerpiece? The triumphant tones of the five-minute “To Repel Ghosts” should more than suffice.

Basically, Fake Problems need to be popular; stat. How Far Our Bodies Go is one of the strongest releases, punk or otherwise, of 2007. It’s the kind of album that draws the listener in and demands he and/or she scream out every got-damned line. Be sure to come out for the band’s gig at Siren Records in Doylestown, PA on June 13th. Extra points if ya sing along.

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