Fagan and the People: Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Aeroplane)

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Fagan and the People: Prised
Fagan and the People: Admiral of the Narrow Seas (Aeroplane)

Possibly because he is busy on so many other things -- see his answers to the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire -- Andrew Fagan acknowledges this album was "recorded all over the place" and comes with a long list of contributors.

Interestingly a pivotal figure is multi-instrumentalist Darryn Harkness on whose New Telapathics album Clapping with Rockets Fagan contributed some vocals.

Fagan could have easily settled for some serviceable mainstream radio pop-rock (there are songs here which, in a different incarnation, could have been that) but he pushes himself with younger company and some dense arrangments which are challenging.

It hits an early peak with the excellent, grinding rock-meets-free jazz of Religion.

Songs like the grand guitar pop of Get Light and cannoning Blame Me (sort of early Blur gone bitter, "blame me for what was spoken, none if us were joking") could easily fit into some alt.radio programming, and Clemency sounds like it comes from a man half his age as he yelps or gets echoed over wah-wah and buzzsaw guitars.

Prised is one of those wonderfully discordant songs which brings to mind Chris Knox as it steers a course between lo-fi pop and slightly snarling cynicism, Between the Day opens with strings and a yearning tone ("between the day and to the light all there ever seemed to be was fight"?) before turning into crunching quasi-prog guitars and Cinemascope.

But there is undistinguished material here, notably in the final third with the leaden Try, the oddly familiar I Know (can't quite place it, old Jesus Jones?) and 1813 -- and although the final track Messiah bristles with rage and a horn section it is bogged down with inconsequential lyrics which are unbecoming to the assembled firepower.

Fagan has clearly pushed himself -- vocally at times it sounds it -- and that is admirable. With culling this could have made a stronger statement and one more consistent with the strongest material here which mostly seems pushed into the first half.

A bit "all over the place". 


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