Where to start? We Are Fiction have an album out, and you need it.
I must begin by saying that, although I try to be objective when reviewing new music, this may be the most horrifically biased review you read all year. I love We Are Fiction. Their 2009 EP was fun and filled with a kind of youthful rage and snarkiness that can’t be mimicked with age. Then came the obligatory big clean vocalist change; lineup changes are inevitable in young bands, and it’s no wonder so many musicians derail their creation before tapping into its real potential. But thankfully this was not the case for WAF. Cue a more streamlined sound, considered lyrics and a far more complimentary vocal blend. The We Are Fiction on ‘One For Sorrow’ is older, more polished and with a clear direction. That isn’t to say that the album is over-polished and dull (like some of their peers’ recent efforts), rather the energy, boundless optimism and infectious hooks have increased tenfold. This is powerful, home-grown music as it should be. Not a string of watery riffs and lyrics based on their tattoo potential. You need this album.
While some tracks such as the anthemic ‘Sail On’, soundtrack to a thousand break-ups ‘My Dreams Are Haunted’ and too-perky-for-words ‘The Worst Of It’ have been released prior to the album launch, this doesn’t alter the fresh enjoyment of the album. ‘A Thousand Places to Sleep’ kicks off proceedings with a deliciously old school (if you’re my age, at least) riff that compels you to move from the first lick. But a catchy hook isn’t enough; we get our first masterclass in blending harmonies in melodic post-hardcore. This is Alexisonfire with a library card; rage swaddled in poetic sincerity. ‘Bright Lights’ is fun; designed for crowd interaction and ridiculous dancing. Come tour season, venues will fold to this song. ‘Mansion House’ (presumably named after the cheap-yet-delicious alcoholic drink, rather than the tube station) is very much in the same vain- a fun, party-ready song filled with opportunities to headbutt your mate and throw some terrifying shapes. ‘Forget About Me’ is a delightfully unexpected musical interlude that proves We Are Fiction don’t only write songs to hurl yourself across the room to. A gentle piano-led introduction builds to a frankly beautiful denouement; a sound so full and rich that you’d fight the compulsion to bathe in it. ‘Old Wounds’ is a blend of We Are Fiction’s trademarks; familiar guitar tones blend with mellow harmonies, all layered over impressively controlled rougher vocals (calling them ‘shouts’ or ‘screams’ hardly does it justice) to ensure a firm fan favourite.
‘Tilt’ shows off vocalist Phil Barker’s rougher range amazingly; his natural tone would be envied by many large hardcore bands, and when layered over Marc Kucharski’s ethereal vocal melodies, the whole sound becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. Slap bang in the middle of ‘Tilt’ is a guest vocalist, and the start of your new favourite collaboration. Xidus Pain, a Peterborough-based hip hop artist, stomps in with a rap that you’ll rewind the track to learn. They don’t slip into TRC territory, but the blending of three vocal stylings is so pleasing that you’ll be hard pushed to do anything but grin from ear to ear. But one of the true highlights on One For Sorrow is the bafflingly titled ‘Wladyslaw’. For the most part; it’s a stripped down track; Kucharski croons over gentle instrumentals. That is until the heart-shattering chorus of ‘I never got the chance to tell you how much I love you’ blasts through the comfortable simplicity of the track and even the most casual listener hangs on every last word they sing.
One For Sorrow shows a phenomenal range of songwriting talents and musicianship. We Are Fiction have created a beautiful monster, ready to be adored by fans and envied by peers. Regardless of age, gender or musical taste, this album will provide the soundtrack to part of your life, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.
5 out of 5 high fives!