Fightstar - Be Human
Record Label: Search and Destroy Records
Release Date: April 20, 2009
They've released two stellar full-lengths, have multiple hit singles, shared the stage with bands like Taking Back Sunday and Rise Against, and have played major festivals, but damnit, why doesn't anyone in the USA know who Fightstar is? England's best kept secret is not even a secret...they're big in the UK and for some reason Americans missed the boat when the band was being promoted through Trustkill Records a couple of years ago.
It's time for that to change. Be Human is the album that can do this and, with it, Fightstar is poised to finally see some long-overdue respect. Whether it's in the UK to those who decry the band for being "Charlie from Busted's new band" to the US for missing out on One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours, this album is sure to be a game-changer.
Be Human is a departure from the general body of work we've seen in the past from the band. Take note if you love the band...this CD is a grower of an album. You may not be into it on first listen, but make sure to let it develop over time and I'm confident that you'll love it as I do. As soon as you press play, the album kicks in with strings more reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria than anything Fightstar has done in the past. We know that they can be melodic as evidenced by past tracks like "Floods" and "99," but never have they strayed from being a straightforward rock band. They break from their own norm with several orchestral elements to make the album sound more full and let the music hit even harder; they're pushing their creative boundaries and it works for the most part.
Take the aforementioned first track, "Calling On All Stations." This song starts out slowly and builds into a crescendo of singer Charlie Simpson's heightened vocals and a rather passive take on a passionate subject matter. "War Machine" is another song that takes a certain symphonic quality to mirror the guitars and make the song stand out from others in the band's catalog. Where the band's musical direction seems to have expanded, their dual vocals are still classic Fightstar, a welcome constant. See a song like "Colours Bleed to Red" for a good usage of dual vocals. (side note: the chorus of "Colours Bleed to Red" and the guitar riffing through the entire thing is an absolute joy to listen to). "Chemicals Bleed" is my favorite track on this album, with an incredibly powerful string section in the beginning of the song to "Deathcar"-esque force to the end of the track.
The band's melodic strengths shine on this album, but they still have some of the heavier elements found on previous albums. "Damocles" illustrates this perfectly, with it's changing time signatures and fuzzy guitar sounds permeating through Simpson's screams. Fans of the band's heavier material will not be disappointed.
The first two singles from the album, "The English Way" and "Mercury Summer" have already been released and, if you have not yet heard them, make sure to check them out. Though they're singles, they're still great songs that really showcase what the band is all about. "The English Way" takes a more modern rock approach with a great hooky single. "Mercury Summer" is the highlight single for me, as it showcases the band's ability to take a simple song with a simple love song concept and turn it into something really special. The song's been out for over a month and I haven't even considered skipping it once as it comes up in all my times listening to this album so far.
The only misstep on the album for me is the song "The Whisperer." Maybe it just hasn't clicked with me yet, but it's a saloon piano-laced track that only reminds me of Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole," as it is a dancier track that is a radical depature from the band's other tracks. They're going for something new with this one and, while the chorus is solid, the verses don't stick for me like the other songs on the album.
The amount of variety on this album for a rock band should be noted as a positive, though. As I said earlier, they are pushing their creativity from what's been seen on previous albums. The band have improved on their already strong sound and created a collection of songs that will be a highlight in their career catalog. Be Human is a solid album overall that is worth the buzz this particular reviewer has given it up to its release. Fightstar have made a musical evolution that remains true to what the band is while providing the listener with an entirely new Fightstar experience.
America, it's time to finally take notice of Fightstar.
I tried getting into Fightstar, but they never caught on with me. Normally, I like this kind of sound, but maybe I'll have to go back and try again soon. Nevertheless, good review -- Joe will be proud!
Very good record, since the first spin I knew it'd be a grower. I hated Whisperer but now I like it quite a lot. The verses sound like Blur's Country House or any of that brit-pop stuff but at least they're trying something new. Never change and Calling all stations are very very good and could do well as singles and the whole record has a wonderful vibe when it comes to the string section. So, once again, good job boys. And great review too!