I was contacted by a Swedish band called The Genuine Fakes (Hi, Genuines!) who pointed me in the direction of their website so I could have a listen to their highly regarded album, The Striped Album (2010). I’m guessing it’s highly regarded because of the blurb that was in the email they sent me:
POWERPOP ALBUM OF THE YEAR?
The album, which has no official title but is simply called “The Striped Album”, is now finally being released after the painstaking process of recording and fine-tuning every song in the studio since 2007. The two previous singles from the album; “I Don’t Want It” and “When Reality Hits You”, have gained recognition and spawned anticipation on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The Genuine Fakes might even beat The Posies and Teenage Fanclub (who are also releasing new albums in 2010) in their own game and make the most enjoyable pop album of the year.”
(One Chord to Another, powerpop blog)
Both singles have been on rotation on US radio channels, such as Sirius Satellite Radio.
“If there is one new band that you need to check out this year, The Genuine Fakes may just be that band. This is one awesome band that is making some very impressive music.”
(Popbang Radio, US)
R N’ B SONG RE-IMAGINED
The third single chosen from the album is the band’s rendition of Beyoncé‘s R n’ B ballad “Irreplaceable“. However, this version is anything but a ballad – the song has been totally reworked and made into a real powerpop anthem, winning over even the most sceptical gig attendees. “We thought that the song was pretty good, but that we could make it a lot better”, says singer Joey. “It was a fun challenge to make it into something completely different and, ultimately, into our own.” The song is now being offered as a free download through thegenuinefakes.com along with the two other singles.
If you like your power pop loud, then you may like The Striped Album. However, every song seemed loud to me. The first time I listened to it, I had it a fairly respectable volume (i.e., loudish) but it sounded too loud and my ears tired fairly quickly. On the second listen I turned it down for a more comfortable listening experience but it still sounded too loud. On the third listen, as an experiment, I turned it down to the bare minimum on my media player, but it felt too loud even at that level. On the fourth listen I had it back up to a that-makes-more-sense level, but I kept thinking “Boy, these songs are loud.”
As I may have hinted at earlier, the whole album has one dynamic level: LOUD. One factor exacerbating the situation is that I didn’t find much light and shade between – or even within – the songs. And it didn’t help that the drummer played with as much enthusiasm as is humanly possible in a recording studio. Ordinarily I’d applaud that, but while the album was playing I couldn’t help but notice that in pretty much all of the non-verse parts of each song, the drummer played eighth-notes on either a hi-hat that was fully open, or a crash cymbal. I don’t know about you, but I can’t take listening to a crash cymbal being mercilessly bashed throughout entire sections of songs. For me, the end result was listening to an album full of songs where there was the constant presence of cymbals. Loud cymbals. And to my ears, those ubiquitous cymbals amounted to white noise. (Maybe that’s why the album sounded so loud to me.)
Despite what I think of the album, and how I tend to feel a little drained whenever I listen to it, you on the other hand may dig all that energy (it’s a very energetic album). Feel free to have a listen to the songs in this post and make up your own mind.
Boring sidenote consisting of pointless criticism about the album cover:
I must say that I think the band missed a golden opportunity to be hip and ironic and all those other things that a lot of modern bands try to be nowadays. The Striped Album has a cover that consists, sensibly enough, entirely of stripes. Now, if the band wanted to be hip and ironic etc, I thought they could have had the album cover consist of nothing but circles, or trapezoids, or perhaps a photo of this white tiger. Ah, well.
But back to the album…
Although I found The Striped Album too loud for a comfortable listening experience, and with the songs not offering a lot of variety (these were the two main factors preventing me from enjoying it more than I wanted to), at least the band opens the album with their own theme song. Any band that has a theme song gets a big plus from me:
The Genuine Fakes – “The Genuine Fakes” (2010)
Now here’s one of the album’s regular songs:
The Genuine Fakes – “If You Then I” (2010)
This is probably my favourite song on the album:
The Genuine Fakes – “When Reality Hits You” (2010)
And here’s a track where the harmony vocals are a bit more pronounced:
The Genuine Fakes – “Mindset” (2010)
Hopefully, you had a listen to those songs despite my moaning about loud dynamics and album covers. And hopefully, you enjoyed them much more than I did. (I did enjoy them, though. Sort of.)
By the way, you can hear a couple more tracks from the album on its website.