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F&M Engage In Dreary, Inferior Self-Parody
Eamonn Seoige, 19 Jan 2011
Some years back, F&M delivered Transparent Things to widespread and deserved acclaim.
It was indeed a fine record, merging a keen appreciation of infectious melody with their undeniable love of mid-paced, Krautrock rhythms (Neu! spring to mind).
Crucially, the largely monotone vocals were built around verses of amusing prose, elevating each track with clever, deadpan rhymes.
On Ventriloquizzing the same formula is again to the fore. That’s not necessarily a negative. Alas, however, the record is distinctly lacking the killer tunes and razor sharp wit that knitted Transparent Things together so well.
While ’16 Shades Of Black And Blue’ displays most of the key elements of F&M at their finest (beat driven, lyrically bright, David Best’s distinctive hushed vocal), the problem is in their isolation: the jots don’t join as they did first time around.
Celebrated folk producer Thom Monahan may have influenced the album’s more solemn atmosphere, most evident on the sparse ‘Spilt Milk’. ‘Tinsel & Glitter’ likewise grabs your attention, if only for its sharp reproach of cynical music-themed reality TV: “We can stick our fingers in our ears/ A pair of stilettos hit the high notes”.
But overall, Ventriloquizzing is subdued. Any efforts at sonic experimentation are simply too subtle, lacking the emotional peaks and troughs scales by electronic pop standard bearers Hot Chip.
In reality, there’s not a whole pile wrong with many of the songs, they simply seem to merge from one into another.
But, given the album’s title’s reference to waxen-faced dummies, maybe that’s the point?