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The past week or two I've been trying to extend my musical tastes by listening to different bands and even styles of music, sadly however I always seem to end up listening to alternative rock at the end of things. Thankfully (for me anyway) alternative rock seems to be a huge genre with thousands of bands and every to often I discover a new one that I like (be it for a song, album or the band as a whole).
This past week or so I stumbled upon Australian 2-piece "Faker", lead by lead singer Nathan Hudson. Apparently "Faker" have been around for well over a decade (forming in the mid 1990's), though they were slow to really make any sort of an impact with it taking until 2005 for the band to release their first album, "Addicted Romantic".
Although "Addicted Romantic" was highly praised in the media (with one Australian journalist describing it as the Australian album of the year) it sadly failed to gain a huge amount of sales, only reaching #44 on the ARIA charts (the Australian Album Sales chart). Despite the somewhat disappointing chart position the album did see the release of 4 singles, including "Hurricane" which reached #21 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of 2005, beating the likes of "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" (#50) by the Arctic Monkeys, "I Predict a Riot" (#35) by the Kaiser Chiefs and "Fix You" (#26) by Coldplay.
Thankfully for Faker, "Addicted Romantic" wasn't the end of the line and two years later the band would release their second album "Be the Twilight", which debuted at #37 on the ARIA charts, before climbing to #24. Not only did the album chart better than the bands debut album, but it also achieved a sales mark, reaching gold status in Australia (meaning it had at least 35,000 sales).
The album kicks off on a high with with the first single from album, "This Heart Attack". An anthemic and catchy indie-rock sounding track that really will have you singing along and tapping your toes through out. Not only is the track the album's stand out track but it's also a perfect way to start the album with a hugely energetic feel that grabs you and forces you to press the repeat button time and time again. It's catchy sound and addictive feel saw the song praised not only by critics but also by listeners as it reached a lofty #5 position in the 2007 Triple J Hottest 100.
After the great opening track, the album continues in the same vein with the second track "Are You Magnetic?" Although not quite as energetic or as fun as the albums opener the track again has a really addictive and anthemic feel to is and is really enjoyable from start to end. Sadly however From here the album does start to go down hill, though it's to be expected however when the album starts with 2 genuinely great, fun tracks.
The album's third track "Killer On The Loose", which not up to the standard of the albums opening two tracks does, for some reason, remind me of songs by "The Cure". It's not quite as hard hitting or energetic as the first two tracks but is a very solid track in it's own right. It's then followed by equally solid (though not spectacular) "Sleepwalking" a slower track that allows Hudson's singing to come trough more than the driving musical sounds of the albums opening tracks. "Sleepwalking" also sees the album contain several profanities, so may be a track that you'd want to avoid you're kids from listening to if you're that way inclined.
The fifth track on the album is "Lazy Bones" a song that could easily have been released in Britain in the mid-90's with decent radio play thanks to the similarities to many of the bands around in the era. It's another energetic song and one that has a genuinely infectious chorus that will have you hooked after one or two listens. Although it's certainly not as good as the albums opening tracks it is a very decent song and one of the albums "non-single" highlights.
Track 6 is "Voodoo Economics" a rather raw sounding indie-rock track that is another song that could have been released in Britain a few decades ago to good success. As with much of the album, the chorus is just flat out catchy though the rest of the track does fall a little bit flat for me. That's certainly not to say it's over-all a flat song, but the the chorus is clearly the only part of the song that you'll remember from the first listen.
"Kid, Please Try Harder" is track 7 and the albums longest track and one that sounds like it it could easily have been by "The Maccabees", who interestingly released their own debut album "Colour It In", just months prior to Faker released "Be the Twilight". This is a slow, soft "indie" ballad type of track that give the album a bit of a break and allows the listener to catch their breath. Sadly however it doesn't just stand out as being a "breather" but also a bit of a weaker track, lacking the energy and catchiness of the bands better tracks.
Thankfully the album gets back up to speed with track 8 "Don't Hide" another track that has a British indie feel to it. It's another toe tapping track that's driven by it's energy more than anything else and as a result it does feel a bit weak in comparison to it's catchier brothers and sisters on the album. The high tempo feel continues in to track 9 "Lost and Found" which has quite a bit more to it than the previous track and has Hudson spitting out the lyrics angrily through out in a a much better track that shows the band don't just need to depend on their hard hitting energy.
The album then takes a bit of a change with "Dumb Mistakes", a track that really tests the lungs od Hudson as he fires off the lyrics in a never ending machine fire delivery. The track is still, at heart, an indie-rock track but the vocals and delivery of Hudson are simply tremendous here. The song isn't as catchy as some of the others but the energetic guitar riffs are still a staple of the track.
The penultimate track on the regular versions of the album is "Radio Lies" a track that seems to lack some of the energy of some of the bands other tracks, though it still remains a quick, hard hitting track driven by the guitar and Hudson's vocals. The song isn't as catchy as numerous other tracks on the album, though it's a solid enough track to listen to. It's then followed by the "regular" album's final track "Death Beach Party", a track that has a more relaxed feel than most of the album. It's again energetic but it feels like a much more restrained energy that the band has control of.
Now you may have noticed I twice mentioned the "regular" version of the album there. That's because the "iTunes version" of the album featured and extra track, "Hit the Light" another catchy and energetic track that is perhaps worth getting as long as the "iTunes version" won't cost significantly more than the regular version. At the moment Amazon sells both versions of the album for £7.49, so I'd advise getting the one with the extra track.
The album also has a third version, entitled "Be The Twilight (Enter The Twilight Zone)" which doesn't features "Hit the Light" but instead features an additional 10 tracks. Whilst most of these are remixes or acoustics there are two new tracks on it. " Pet Sematary (Acoustic Like A Version Performance)" an acoustic sounding track that is a nice bonus with great lyrical imagery, though nothing amazing and "Deathwish (Acoustic)" another acoustic track that strips the energy from the band though shows they can do brilliant short ballads. Amazingly this version of the album is also selling for £7.49 on Amazon and is certainly the most complete version of the album in my mind.
For the price the album (especially the "Enter the Twilight Zone" version) is well worth a purchase if you enjoy indie rock, alternative rock or just really energetic music. The opening two tracks are clearly the stand out tracks (and their acoustic versions are also brilliant) and whilst there is a weaker track or two, the the album never becomes too boring simply due to the fact too much is happening. This is seriously worth a purchase.