Friday, October 10, 2008

Quick hitters:: Crooked Fingers Forfeit/Fortune

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I’ve been waiting for a long time for the new Crooked Fingers album. Honestly, Eric Bachmann can do little wrong in my mind and ever since I heard he was self-releasing his new record, I've been on pins and needles. His last solo effort, To the Races, still manages to find it’s way to the top of my listening pile, with his Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers back catalog following close behind like a pack of pitchfork wielding villagers.

So when I finally got my hands on Forfeit/Fortune, my initial reaction laced with confusion. Eric has managed to blend lush arrangements, some of his rougher earlier work and his stark solo efforts, and still thrown in a steady diet of drum machine styled change ups. He drifts even further into the Eastern European folk and flamenco influenced guitars that worked so well on Dignity and Shame, but at times I get lost in the mix. I’m not sure I’d go as far to say this is a time capsule of all things Bachmann, but long time fans will be able to identify years and styles like rings on a tree.

So obviously with all that instrumentation, Forfeit/Fortune is bold, both with Bachmann’s stylistic choices and in overall ambition but as is so often the case, huge risks results in both big success and failures. Without question, there are plenty of successes and enough familiarity to help fans settle in, but there are big changes as well. The opening number, What Never Combs, at least structurally could have snuck onto the last Crooked Finger release, until but the dominating sax that takes over. The horns and staccato drum machine that mix with the Spanish guitar on Luisa's Bones (a song where Bachmann’s vocals are nowhere to be found) are equally as unfamiliar, but both work.

But to be honest, the fresh coat of paint the band adds to a lot Bachmann’s traditional work is exciting but not entirely successful. The single, Phony Revolutions, is a beautiful duet and the shimmering synths, drum machine textures and vocal samples really spice up the track. The lovely 80’s tinged duet with Neko Case that closes (Your Control) the record uses heavy synths to it’s advantage and there is a sense of urgency on Cannibals, an intensity that wasn’t around last time around (an easy comparison since this is the track most likely to hit home with fans of D & S), but for me a lot of the numbers are tough to embrace.

Normally with any Bachmann release I reserve judgment until I get more listens under my belt - I've only had this record for about a week - so I realize my opinion may change over time, but with Forfeit/Fortune I just feel like there is more miss than hit, which is not something I say often about Eric's work.

Posted at 1:56 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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