Review: Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught on Tape

Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught on Tape
Record Label: SideOneDummy
Release Date: September 21st, 2010

Support slots are interesting dilemmas. On the one hand they take up valued time and space from your favourite band and more often than not do not have the talent to hold your interest for the course of their diminished setlist. On the other hand, every now and then you stumble across a real treasure trove of a find; one that makes sitting through all the rest of the dross worthwhile. One such band is Fake Problems who I first discovered because of the support slot under the Gaslight Anthem, arguably the finest band in modern music (seriously don’t get me started, it’s my favourite soapbox…). They are that fantastic kind of band that sound like everything at once and so sound like nothing whatsoever. Confused? Allow me to explain…

Over the course of this 40 minute album the genre ranges from indie to pop to folk to punk to rockabilly to funk and back again, often within the space of about a minute. That’s the kind of style that’s incredibly difficult to pull off at all, and even harder to do it within any sense cohesion. Fake Problems however, manage to do it with consummate ease. Everything fits together as well as that old Lego set from your childhood but is infinitely more fresh than that musty collection probably is now… Any fan of their back catalogue could tell you to expect this, but for a newcomer to the band the variety is truly refreshing and liberating. Even if you think it might be confused and incoherent, there’s something in here to sell it to most people.

It’s catchy enough for disposable listens but there’s a much deeper layer to anyone who wants to find it, and the same can be said for the lyrics. While lines like “I was hollow as a ghost, but you have brought me back to life and revived the hope” aren’t exactly heart-wrenching poetry there’s a subtle eccentricity to the lines that are the kind you just don’t find in everyday pop music. Thankfully the avoidance of mingling with any particular “scenes” means there is not an overwhelming emphasis on making the lyrics fit a certain mood or style which just makes them even more refreshing. Lead singer Chris Fallan’s voice has a similar vein running through. Just high-pitched and quirky enough to be comfortable next to label-mates on primarily pop-punk label SideOneDummy but just with that little individual twist to make him stand out.

Songwise they barely miss a step. It’s the kind of album you like when you first listen because of the immediacy but reveals deeper levels the more time you give it. Tracks like ADT, 5678 and Soulless are joyful dance numbers but ones that feature complex musical structures beneath it which creep into your head quicker than you’d think. Even slower numbers like White Lies still have a memorable quirkiness which eventually gets superseded by its emotional resonance. Truly this is a remarkable album by a remarkable band, and one surely destined for headline slots of their own.


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