Fischerspooner Odyssey

[Capitol; 2005]

Styles: electro, retro, new wave
Others: Kraftwerk, Felix da Housecat, Pet Shop Boys

When first listening to Fischerspooner's debut album, #1, I'd focused so fully on the spare, minimalist texture of the music that I hardly paid attention to the song structures. Further spins proved the songs to be well, if also minimally, crafted, but I never got over just the sound of it. The consistent beds of 303/606/808 drive the stoic vocals of Casey Spooner along with occasional scolding from the female vocalists. It's the perfect stuff to score a dance performance troupe with new wave leanings.

Approximately ten seconds into the third track, "Never Win," the presence of some exquisitely placed handclaps told me that Odyssey, their sophomore effort, is something else entirely. The song builds into a pop rock song with more new wave attitude than appears on the entirety of #1. From there, it only becomes more apparent that the diversity of sound on the album is indicative of a shift in focus. Fischerspooner, having already constructed their consistent sonic identity, are now coming to the table with a much-expanded notion of songcraft.

Odyssey is an album full of great songs: a performance concept only in the sense that writing great songs is a performance piece (which is true, though rarely acknowledged). The unwavering pulse of "A Kick in the Teeth" creates a perfectly tense mood for an urgent yet soothingly warm electronic bath of a pop song. "We Need a War" handles political commentary better than most bands have recently by affecting a deadpan sarcasm that makes its point without naming names. Even the choice to rework the opening track from the Boredom's Vision Creation Newsun album, a seemingly anachronistic move, works so unexpectedly smoothly as an album closer that its inclusion is nothing less than masterful.

The truth is that there isn't a weak track on the album. Each song works on its own with no excuses necessary regarding "concept." In this way, Spooner and Fischer have proven themselves to be great musicians regardless of their context.

1. Just Let Go
2. Cloud
3. Never Win
4. A Kick in the Teeth
5. Everything to Gain
6. We Need a War
7. Wednesday
8. Happy
9. Ritz 107
10. All We Are
11. Circle (Vision Creation New Sun)

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