Review: Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape

When it comes to the new Fake Problems release, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, there are two questions to ask. The first question to ask is this: is this album a Fake Problems album? The answer would be yes and no; it’s by the band named Fake Problems but it sounds so very different. The second question is: does this matter at all? The answer – hell no.

Real Ghosts Caught On Tape is not a typical folk punk offering. You’d probably struggle to find the folk or the punk in it. What is there instead is a ridiculously slick, well rounded record constructed of pure genius. Despite purist cries claiming otherwise, I’ve thought that Fake Problems have been heading in this direction quite naturally, so for all the haters, you can’t say you didn’t see it coming. That said, I fail to see how there are any haters at all because it’s just… So. Damn. Good.

The album opens on ADT, a wonderfully jangly affair which sets the tone for the rest of the album. They might not all be quite so wistful sounding – there are some pretty dark tracks on here – but they’re all equally fantastic if not better. Farren’s recurring line “tap tap your feet, to your heartbeat” wrenches through the entire song and it truly is the little things that make this album; from that line to the soulful scream of “don’t leeeeaaat them in!” in 5678 and the guiro in Songs For Teenagers along with the standard drum beat. And that’s just the first three tracks, there are far more gems in there for you to discover yourself. No attention to detail is lacking and everything is carefully considered. Is that punk rock? Maybe not but who gives a damn at this point?

This may be a perfect summer album with a great variety of upbeat dancers, slow burning chill outs and generally bouncy guitar (which begs the question – why did it come out this autumn?) but as I mentioned, there is a lot more at play here. This album is Chris Farren’s best lyrical effort so far – clever, infectious and at times, particularly heartfelt. Soulless in particular is a highlight for me as a wonderfully upbeat love story with some of the best metaphors I’ve seen. If you think you’re a poet, chances are you probably ain’t got anything on Chris Farren.

This is one of those albums where I love every single track. My general reviewing technique is to go through each and every song but with this, I don’t feel like I need to; there is literally nothing to complain about. As for highlights, every track is a highlight. 5678, potentially my favourite for the awesome vocal effects and the fantastically groovy bass, let alone the lyrics, instantly springs to mind but I could do exactly the same for every other track. Everyone is on form on this record and it feels a lot more complete and together than other Fake Problems releases. Trust me when I say I’ve had this on repeat.

The one thing I’ve found is that it’s pretty difficult to place this album. I thought about it, then realised that I didn’t care because whatever it is, it’s incredible. I promise, you won’t hear a better release this year. Pick it up, stick it on your iPod (because it really is best listened to through headphones) and enjoy.

5 out of 5 high fives!

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