Club sounds don’t always need to be about dance music. Though Fischerspooner have been kicking around for the better parts of two decades now, the band is still making something relevant with their latest album Sir. Rich with electronic synth-pop, the band crafts a dark world to tell stories from the troubled places. Though the album’s flow might not always feel consistent, Fischerspooner is always saying something important.
Tones of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot can be heard under the dark industrial aesthetic of “Stranger Strange,” and its seedy electronica gains hints of glam because of it. The brash vocal delivery is utterly intoxicating over the bands frantic production, giving the song a constantly sultry feeling on what would otherwise be abrasive. Fischerspooner also offers a more art-rock approach to many of the sounds of Justice on this album, making songs like “TopBrazil” feel sweaty and filthy. The close mic-work makes the vocals really cut through the noise and turn the song into a tight but biting dance track.
The heavy swing of “Togetherness” gives a hard slap to much of the band’s sound, that doesn’t always match their feel. It does however match Caroline Polachek’s delivery, giving the heavy synths a lot more space to work with. “Everything Is Just Alright” however has an immediate drive to its bass hook as Spooner’s vocals really ride the surge of riffs well. Through it all, the band build around the stellar bass to evolve the song into a fiery rush of sound that soars right through.
Despite a fairly straightforward club hook, “Have Fun Tonight” mix in a clever dose of ambient synths and smart dance beats to make it addictive and moving. The band’s years of experience really come through in the layering too, as the final choruses bloom with dense electronics that make it virtually impossible not to get caught up in the rhythm. The sparse production however of “Discreet” feels wonderfully detailed, as it makes each additional part feel important. By the end, this gradual build of dynamics carries a heavier emotion behind it that makes the finale feel important and powerful.
“Strut” runs with a shady sense of uncertainty, as the crawl of bass moves the song forward consistently through empty or tension-filled choruses. Spooner’s crazy delivery goes off the rails through the song, making every section feel poignant regardless of its instrumentation. The slow beating of “Get It On” is menacing as it’s subtle sound-work makes Spooner’s vocals feel all the more pointed and creepy. Spooner’s loose syncopations compliment his demented harmonies, and take the track from simple darkness to a complex mood-piece.
A troubling lack of passion haunts “I Need Love” and gives its oozing beats a real sense of pain rather than attack. Each lyric flies out with restraint and dwindling energy, as Spooner shows a tenderness and control that few vocalists manage. “Butterscotch Goddamn” has that patient whip of energy that the band absolutely nails by the first chorus. Although it’s definitely a slow-burn, the band’s intricate use of sounds really elevates the song into something worth hearing.
“Dark Pink” has bouncy percussion and a funky groove to give a brightness to the album you really wouldn’t expect. The shift of pace really elevates the song beyond a simple interlude and tries more in two minutes than some of their songs do in five. This of course is where “Try Again” slips up, as it ruminates on one hook for so long that it never truly goes anywhere. Though closer “Oh Rio” starts off this way as well, Fischerspooner and Holly Miranda blend in enough unnerving vocals and abrasive verses to keep listeners on their toes.
Words by Owen Maxwell