Fixers: We’ll Be The Moon (Dolphin Love)
Fixers have had quite a tumultuous year as our reviewer Sean Diamond explains below. However, despite the ‘downs’ of the start of the year they seem to be entering the second half on quite a high having (self) released one of the best records of the year in our Seans opinion.
Oxford five piece Fixers‘ debut album has finally arrived, albeit in slightly tumultuous circumstances. Scheduled for a June release, the album was delayed when Mercury records pulled out after the band cancelled a UK tour, causing great confusion and frustration within the band’s fan base, who were compensated with free, individual mix tapes compiled by each member of the band as a means of apology. Never ones to back down in the face of adversity, in true DIY spirit the lads have released it on their own, independent record label Dolphin Love; the CD comes complete with a striking cardboard sleeve and printed lyrics, and are already making plans to release a second album, which may come as a relief for any doubters who assumed this may be the beginning of the end of their career! As if…..
The album opens with ‘Majesties Ranch’, a breezy synth-driven pop song of carefree summer abandon, with a slightly dark undertow (“wipe the seats of surfer’s blood”). It’s unclear whether this particular line is intentionally macabre, although Fixers songs are full of ambiguous imagery and illusions, partly what sets them apart form so many of their so-called “contemporaries”. Detractors have frequently written them off as a second rate Animal Collective imitation, but apart from the wonderful ‘Iron Deer Dream’, which does bear a slight resemblance to said band’s ‘Brothersport’, there is very little evidence of their influence elsewhere on the record. ‘Iron Deer Dream’ is a more guitar heavy and slightly more sinister take on the Collective’s gospel/rave/sugar pop wall of sound, similar only in vocal delivery. It’s skin scorchingly sunny pop melody is offset by weird lyrics about someone being “homicidal” and someone elses refusal to be “casual” in preference to being “velvet”, along with references to the Berlin Wall and Waikiki. It’s a crafty, highly deceptive surf-pop stonker of a track, and one which you’ll struggle to get out of your head for days after one listen.
We get equally bizarre lyrics elsewhere; single ‘Crystals’ talks of “midnight mermaids” and “fallen angels”, as well as one of the album’s most memorable couplets; “Old iron butt upset the apple cart”. It’s another infectiously catchy summer anthem, and certainly one of the oddest pop singles released in the last two years! I keep mentioning “pop” cause that’s what this album is; POP with a capital P! The obvious influence, of course, is Brian Wilson, whom the band admit to being indebted to, but the band’s varied musical tastes, indie, contemporary R&B, hip hop, Norwegian black metal, listen hard and you’ll notice subtle little nods to these most disparate of genres. Fixers really are amongst the most deceptive of groups……..
‘Alexandra’ and ‘World Of Beauty’ are both exquisite, far out paens to being alive, with images of dolphins, oceans and the “space age” guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of even the most hardened of curmudgeons! ‘Pink Light’ is a giddy, surreal stomp into the underworld, ‘Dais Flowers’ a futuristic lullaby for the robot children of tomorrow, and ‘Floating Up’ has the kind of euphoric chorus capable of making dolphins leap up from the waves in excitement. Probably. A welcome slowing down of pace is provided by ‘Amsterdam’, a highly complex, multi-layered ballad which successfully merges big budget, almost power balladesque eighties production techniques with Van Dyke Parks harmonies. It’s a big, highly bold experiment which pays off, thanks to frontman Jack Goldstein’s haunting, ambitious vocals and striking lyrical imagery. ‘Really Great World’ is another highly Wilsonesque extended pop anthem which gets inside your head, and closer ‘Good Night’ is a thought provoking acoustic piece which sounds kinda like Supergrass jamming in a barn with The Wondermints on a hot summer’s day. Which is no bad thing, I think you’ll agree after giving it a listen…..
Fixers have crafted an epic slice of nu-psychedelia which will surely soundtrack many a summer barbecue/holiday/festival this year. The only slight downside, for me, was the inclusion of the ‘I’m Too Sexy’ meets ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’ aerobics dance workout of single ‘Swimmhaus Johannesberg’ at the end; a lyrically intriguing and undeniably catchy number, but also one which I personally find rather disturbing, for reasons which I am unable to fully articulate or, indeed, put my finger on. Still, this is only a very minor complaint, as ‘We’ll Be The Moon’ is one of the most exciting, potentially revolutionary debut albums from a British act I have heard for a while. Your loss, Mercury.
All words Sean Diamond. More articles by sean can be found here.