Fear of Men - Fall Forever
Brighton indie trio Fear Of Men return with their second album since 2014’s Loom. Previously quoted as saying that they “wanted to make an album that would make the stage shake” Fall Forever sees the group strip back their sound and enhance it with a more electronic approach to create, what singer Jessica Weiss has called, a “love album” that explores “emotional extremes of closeness and distance, love and violence”. The band formed after guitarist Daniel Falvey met Weiss at an exhibition of short films that she had composed the soundtracks for, and from the first listen of Fall Forever the soundtrack element to Weiss’s songwriting is prevalent throughout. Likewise, the album was written in a disused abattoir two hours from anywhere resembling civilisation, and it is this sparseness that is also evident in the finished result.
The album opens on the frankly underwhelming ‘Vesta’, the reverb heavy and modulated soundscape which sounds like a slowed down ‘How Soon Is Now?’ without the immediacy, finishing before it even starts. The shaky opener out of the way, the rest of Fall Forever starts to build some more momentum with second track ‘Undine’ and its precise robotic drum pattern, interrupted by floating guitar and synths, managing to emulate ‘Soft as Snow’ by My Bloody Valentine if Kevin Shields had decided to dial down his insanity to five. The remainder of the album follows along in a similar sparse vein, such as ‘A Memory’ with its lyrical refrain “You’re a memory, you’re divine”, and album highlight ‘Trauma’ with it’s caged distorted guitar middle eight before burning out into a more sedate main guitar riff that comes across as a more tortured The XX. The vocals are what stand out most from this whole process as Weiss manages to blend stripped down conversational softness with a more melancholic edge.
Fall Forever delivers a combination of Dream pop and Art Rock resulting in a sparse etherealness that manages to be both open and claustrophobic at the same time, all the while a sense of pain and unease occasionally rears its head through the reverb heavy guitar and vocal. But is it an album to make “the stage shake”? In a live setting it would be an aural treat, however, on record, there isn’t anything memorable enough to grab on to you on an emotional level with the tracks seeming to drift by aimlessly as though lost at sea and then sink away without warning.