REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/17/2010
The resurgence of rock as mainstream music in the ‘90s was high and mighty. Its subsequent era wasn’t as glorious, as most of the bands that were part of this explosion had mostly faded away, and the remaining ones mostly evolved to assume less fiery versions of themselves from years past. This new face of rock – more folky and less antagonizing – is hardly the face of contemporary music, but it is still potent enough to inspire and spawn bands, and good ones at that. Fictionist is just the band that keeps rock alive in its purest form without succumbing to the pop fever that grips today’s mainstream rock music with a tight fist.
The band’s debut, Lasting Echo, is straightforward, and it means it. There are no unnecessary convolutions, no pretensions, no “cheeky” genre hybridization: just plain old rock music. The music, at its core, has a lot in common with the laidback post-Brit pop sound, for instance, similar to someone like Travis or The Verve. But with Fictionist, the good-old American band that it is, the guitars are more at the fore. The beautifully contemplative songs on Lasting Echo are often scattered with guitar interruptions that almost play a duet with the vocals, giving the music of Fictionist an unmistakable likeness to classic rock.
Even in its little mould, Lasting Echo is no simplistic an album; quite the contrary. This is a record teeming with rock music influences from different eras, creating a wonderful melting-pot of moods and sounds. A cut like “Always” has arena rock grandeur; at the same time, tracks such as “Human Wings,” “Blue-Eyed Universe,” and “Strangers In The Dark” bask in lazy casualness. “The Well-Made Shadow” and “Time To Time” have a ‘60s psychedelic rock thing going on, whereas “Deeper And Deeper” is straight up Brit pop without question.
But no matter what, every song on Lasting Echo has a strong melody, which is a huge part of what makes the album so great. There is also this other little factor: that of vocalist Stuart Maxfield. His calm and serene vocals are touching, and their range is awe-inspiring. More than once he lets out Chris Cornell-like screams that are as soulful as they are powerful.
Fictionist is a band worth getting acquainted with.