Number One Fan - Compromises
Record Label: Pat's Record Company
Release Date: August 3, 2004
Over the past few years, there have been a select few bands whose breakups have shook the AbsolutePunk.net community to its core: names such as Blink 182 and Northstar speckle this prestigious list. Before I continue any further in the review, let's get one thing out of the way: Number One Fan isn't one of those bands. I can, however, honestly proclaim that I've enjoyed Number One Fan's lone release Compromises more than anything that's been created by the hands of the two earlier mentioned groups. The album's entrancing nature has frequented my stereo on a consistent basis over the last three years, always leaving a glimmer of interest and anticipation as to whether the group would permanently disband or instead release further compilations. In light of their breakup and the recent cancellation of their humbly-advertised farewell tour, I've deemed it appropriate to offer forth a dual-purpose review: firstly, a summary of their debut album Compromises and, secondly, a brief quasi-biographical look into perhaps the most beautiful sound I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Following a widespread conventionality of the pop/pop-punk genre, Number One fan originally started as four high school friends and classmates joining together without an especially extensive knowledge of musicianship to simply form a band and see where it would take them. After an early lineup change, in which Michael Ziemann (brother of vocalist Nick Ziemann) replaced the original bassist despite no prior exposure to the instrument, the band saw reasonable success almost immediately, which might come as a surprise given the fact that their thriving was originally within a Wisconsin music scene before they began expanding their influence past regional restriction. Soon they began receiving invitations to open for bands such as Something Corporate and The All-American Rejects. In 2003, three years after their formation, the group independently recorded and released their debut album Compromises. The following year they signed with Pat's Record Company, and with new producers Justin Perkins and Eric Thielen at the helm, remastered the debut album and issued it's re-release on August 3, 2004.
Now, onto the actual musical evaluation. I will begin the review by reiterating the single word that I've always associated with the album, the band: beautiful. Other examples of contextual jargon are tranquil, passionate, charming, angelic, and halcyon. But, "beautiful" is by all reasonable consideration more applicable than the others. Emasculating terminology aside, the album is pretty well-rounded as far as its basic components are concerned: musicianship, vocals, and lyrics. Though the lyrics are far from philosophical or abstract, they are fitting and never seem the least bit forced; they just blend with the music.
If there is any weakness in the album that one might point out, it's the lack of differential qualities by which the songs can be contrasted. Some have said the songs sound too much alike. The disk opens with the lone single, "Come On," a song containing ascending vocals and high-end electric strumming throughout. Though not my absolute favorite, it is most definitely a catchy (a word that applies to the album as a whole) track: perfect for a single. The next track, "It's Happening," is a slower track with which the keyboard and drums are a bit more emphasized, heralded by many as one of the better tracks. The third track, entitled "Can't Forget," is one of my very favorites. The track, a heartbreak rock song concerning falling out of love, is a bit faster than its predecessors and like many of the songs, brilliantly applies symbols throughout and even implements a rare but enjoyable guitar/drum solo to end the song. Next in line, "The Prettiest Sin," clocks out at 5:30 making it the longest track by far. A slower track (though I find it more passionate than "It's Happening"), it describes the bugs-in-amber feeling of romance and being stuck in a rut.
The sixth track, "Nothing Will Change," is another of my very favorites of the compilation. Perhaps the most vocally emotional song, it serves as a plea of sort and ends in a similar fashion as "Can't Forget," which may again force some blurriness between track distinction, if it be an issue. Skipping over the next three songs (one being, "The Distance," a heartfelt fan-favorite), the tenth and final track is entitled "There Went the World," and is my favorite track of the album by leaps and bounds. It is the softest, no doubt, but is also the most heartfelt and lyrically potent. It's one of those ballads that can affect you in such a way that you ultimately identify it with a point in your life (which is the case with me, personally). As you could assume, it is also one of the more depressing tracks musically. The song and album end with Nicholas repeating the line "there went the world...it's just one girl" as the song fades out with a piano.
This past June, Nicholas publicly announced the group's breakup, news that many had been expecting for quite some time. The best news for the number one fans of Number One Fan, however, was that the group planned a farewell tour which was also canceled a few days ago. During their ever-so brief existence, the foursome from Appleton, Wisconsin gave their listeners one of the best debut albums one could ask for. As a parting gift of sorts, the group planned to release a compilation of unreleased tracks last December. I must plead ignorance as to whether it is actually up for purchase at this time.
Now, to verbally validate the possible inconsistencies between my review and my ratings, I'll shortly explain. Though I do love this album (and would likely put it on my all-time top 20), I am objective enough to realize it's not "masterpiece material." Although the vocals are, as I've described, beautiful, the lack of range and diversity limits the possibility of a high rating. I originally planned on giving the album a low rating for musicianship but, upon listening closer today, realized the surprising musical quality of the album. It's been a while since I've reviewed anything and, appropriately maybe, I've spent a hell of a lot of time on this review so, to those who have actually read this far (if there are any at all): I hoped you've enjoyed it.
Thank God this review received all this recognition to validate the time spent on it...
It's tough, I know. But even if you don't have a big explosion of views in the first week, you'll always have people checking out your reviews down the road. It's a slow, but steady process. My first review only received about 200 hits in its first week, but now it's up to 400.
this review made me bust this cd out. i remember seeing the right when the record came out, they opened for armor for sleep. i listened to it then and only really liked 'it's happening' and 'sorry'. but listening to it now, it's really growing on me. i remember them being great live though. sweet review bro.