Review : Fischerspooner - Entertainment
PitchforkIt's been nine years since Larry Tee, the man who coined the term "electroclash," put on the first Electroclash festival. Rather than looking at how that scene died, it's interesting to see how many of those festival headliners-- Fisherspooner, Peaches, Ladytron, Scissor Sisters-- survived. (Not to mention that nobody sniffs at later electro-pop bands like Hot Chip, Justice, Crystal Castles, CSS, etc.) Maybe the key for the the duo behind Fisherspooner (composer Warren Fischer and singer/performer Casey Spooner) is that they don't consider themselves "dance musicians" in the conventional sense. "I mean our music isn't really dance music," Fischer told Pitchfork's Tom Breihan in a recent interview. "I don't really know what genre it would lie in. I guess it's kind of like indie pop or pop music."
They always were, and still consider themselves, an art project first (notice he says "our music" rather than "we"). As they said, they get commissioned for dance pieces (the kind performed in concert halls), not for remixes. Their shows are built on spectacle rather than the charisma of any one of their players, including frontman Spooner. Unfortunately for a band that tries to turn glitter and polish into art, Entertainment is a lackluster performance. Here they almost become the indie pop group they claim they've always been, but the irony of their cries against capitalism and artifice ultimately fail without compelling songs to keep them afloat.
Entertainment begins promisingly. Lush opener "The Best Revenge" scans as old Fischerspooner sleaze for its first few seconds, but then the track shudders awake with broken keyboard notes and a dated but delightful horn line-- the kind where you hope someone yells "Blow, daddy!" But no one ever does. "At what cost? There is a price," warns Spooner. He lives by this admonishment throughout Entertainment (the title perhaps evoking that other anti-capitalist "dance" band, Gang of Four). The stance is funny (though understandable) coming from a band you'd always suspect was created exclusively for readers of BlackBook. Some of his warnings-- "Currency can only do so much" ("Money Can't Dance"), "What's real? What's fake" ("In a Modern World"), or "It's no one's fault but our own," from their slippery anti-war track "Infidels of the World Unite", ring insincere, an unfortunate side-effect of Spooner's deadened vocals....full text
PopmattersA fair number of the artists associated with the electroclash moniker meld new wave, hip-hop, and ambient and punk (usually vocals) elements. Le Tigre’s drum-machined rock-raps, for example, have riot grrl roots (and thus punk influences). The foul temptress Peaches’ electro base is mediated by rap and punk/rock (or on her latest release, even a vocal flirtation with soul). Others lumped into electroclash also shift these variables in one way or another. That has always left Fischerspooner, despite the commonality of a basic electro fetish, a bit apart. Their relationship to late ‘70s and ‘80s electronic pioneers is much more mediated by New Wave electro-pop than deconstructed pop becoming ambient, industrial, and or techno; more OMD, Scritti Politti, Human League, and early Depeche Mode than, say, Art of Noise or Nitzer Ebb. This much awaited third album, Entertainment, finds Fischerspooner going more electro pop than ever before.
Is production time a measure of artistic labor? Probably not in any ultimate sense (any more than Ezra Pound’s 14-word “In a Station of the Metro” is less art than T.S. Eliot’s three thousand-plus “The Waste Land"). Yet there’s something to be said for the relationship between time and composition. Composer Warren Fischer and singer-lyricist Casey Spooner’s first album took three years to make. Their second, two. Four years after Odyssey comes the third (recorded over a two-year period). Say what you want, but their albums don’t suffer from a lack of careful labor. However, time a quality album does not make. So what is the result this time?...full text
MusicomhNo review of a Fischerspooner album could go by without using the phrase "electroclash pioneers," could it? But wait! For most of its running time, Entertainment is more electropop than electroclash. Framed more closely within the structures of traditional songwriting than most recent dance music, it often appears to be aimed at the radio rather than the dancefloor. Fair enough, but it does alert the listener's ear to the content rather than the style: a vulnerable position to be in for a band who have always been resolutely style-led.
The '80s electropop template creates both the successes and failures of the album. It's highly listenable and immaculately produced throughout, drawing heavily on the '80s triumvirate of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and Erasure and never threatening to descend into cacophony or chaos, as early electroclash often did. The Best Revenge is a pleasingly syrupy, brassy mid-tempo number with the classic robustness of a Pet Shop Boys single; In A Modern World has all of the bubbly charm of Erasure; and throughout we're treated to a deceptively complex and varied layering of electronic sounds worthy of any of Vince Clarke's bands.
This plethora of synthesized instruments (guitar, mandolin, violin, glockenspiel, flute, trumpet, and so on) creates a playful mood for the album: lots of fun, if rather mannered at times. One can only guess that Warren Fischer is desperate to prove to mum and dad that a Casio was a worthwhile Christmas present after all, by using every single preset instrument that his keyboard has to offer....full text
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