Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reviews:: In-Flight Safety - We Are An Empire, My Dear

It is strangely appropriate that the second track on In-Flight Safety's new album, We Are An Empire, My Dear is called Big White Elephant. Why you ask? Because the elephant in the room whenever anyone discusses this amiable Halifax foursome is the dreaded c-word. Not that c-word, you filthy pervert, but the band fronted by Gwyneth Paltrow's husband - which was once much loved, but now mostly scorned (disclaimer: I have pretty much always been a part of the latter group). Clearly, this lazy comparison is a problem, as anyone who is likely to dismiss Coldplay out of hand might do the same with IFS, and that would be a real shame. Because, and here is the newsflash you've been waiting for: In-Flight Safety is not Coldplay.

Yes, both play music that leans towards the lush, "radio friendly" side of the spectrum, but anyone that thinks that IFS is a bunch of hackey dudes that got together to rip off Chris Martin is sadly mistaken. They are sincere, talented guys, and We Are An Empire, My Dear does nothing but reinforce that opinion. Of course my opinion of the band is biased, as I've witnessed their participation in the Halifax music scene up close over the last couple years. We've seen the guys from the band in the crowd at a number of shows, seen them in other projects (Dan Ledwell's solo work, Dan & John Mullane as part of The Prospector's Union, and unless I'm mistaken, Mullane even worked one of the soundboards during our showcase\extravaganza during this years HPX). So what am I saying here? I don't exactly know, but I'm spending a lot of time defending an a band that doesn't really need the help, so let's discuss the new album, shall we? It's a good one.

We Are An Empire, My Dear was recorded in an empty schoolhouse in rural Fox River, NS, and you can feel the setting reflected in the songs. There's a sense of vastness and desolation running through a number of the songs, but there's also a warmth there, like a roaring fireplace in the middle of a big old empty country farmhouse. A lot of that warmth comes from Mullane, who has great control of his voice, and is able to shift into higher pitch without it coming off forced or corny. The playing and arrangements on the album are also of a rather high caliber, so even if the lyrics are focused on the unstable nature of modern life, the music sweeps you away so you can't dwell on them.

Back in the summer, when we saw IFS do some of the songs from this album live, the Ack predicted that Model Homes would be a smash, and the recorded version doesn't disappoint. A striking combination of Ledwell's piano and acoustic open the song, and Mullane takes the tale of alienation through it's paces until the big choir-like finish. I was a fan of the uptempo songs they played during that Summersonic set, like Crash/Land and Cloudhead, and they remain highlights here, with both giving drummer Glen Nicholson ample space to show his chops. The highlights don't end there, with the peppy/depressing Actors, the introspective Amy Racina, and urgent album closer Fill Our Wounds all catching my attention.

Top to bottom, We Are An Empire, My Dear satisfies - it contains the kind of anthemic songs your favorite much-ballyhooed band of choice would have made before they got lazy and self-indulgent. And I have to think that if there were no comparisons or pre-opinions shaped by what people who take writing about music on the interweb way too seriously, I think almost anyone who sat down and listened to this album would agree with me. But this is just one man's rant-filled opinion, the album has been available since last week, so check it out for yourself.

myspace :: web :: buy CD :: Zunior it!

If you're in the Maritimes, you can catch IFS live this month:

6 Feb 2009 22:00 Marquee Club Halifax, Nova Scotia
10 Feb 2009 21:15 The Capital Fredericton, New Brunswick
11 Feb 2009 21:15 The Akhord Saint John, New Brunswick
12 Feb 2009 21:30 Manhattan Moncton, New Brunswick
13 Feb 2009 21:30 The Wave Charlottetown, Prince Edward

Still not convinced there doubting Thomas? Well, the whole shooting match is being streamed at Chart Attack, so check it out.


In-Flight Safety - Actors

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Posted at 2:47 PM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 8:23 PM, Anonymous Annaleise Marie did sayeth:

I completely agree with your critique. I won't sit here and pretend that I've been a fan of IFS for very long, but I am so glad I encountered them before hearing the Coldplay comparrison. I probably would have missed out on something great. :/

As it were, I first heard them on an episode of Degrassi. The song was "Model Homes", and honestly, it made a much greater impression on me than the episode itself.

Then, a week ago, my brother shot himself. He survived, but is in bad shape and everyone's been having a hard time coming to terms with it. The song has been oddly therapeutic for me, but sadly the album is not available for purchase in my area, so I've had to make do with youtube.


At 9:34 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Thank for writing a personal story like that. If you send us your address, John from In-Flight Safety said he'd mail you a disc.


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