A Serious Case of the Blues
New Haven, Connecticut’s Fake Babies are a fairly unremarkable band, even though it reaches for an electronic soulfulness that tries to match the sound of TV on the Radio joined at the hip with Animal Collective, with a dash of Prince thrown in. There’s a certain flirtation with Pretty Hate Machine-era Nine Inch Nails, as well. While those comparisons might be enough to make indie kids froth at the lips, this quartet’s debut LP We Started Blues finds band members fumbling for a kind of tunefulness that more often than not eludes them. Fake Babies has the ideas and a funky swagger, and singer Robert Nuzzello Jr. comes off as a soulful Marilyn Manson here and there when he’s not processing his vocals under a bevy of garish effects. However, the songs themselves, with a few exceptions, just aren’t present. They swirl around heavy bass synth lines, occasionally rearing their heads now and then with an interesting melody or harmony before petering out or wearing out their welcome in equal measure. The thing with Fake Babies’ brand of electronic babble is that it generally simmers as opposed to rocking out, which will be an asset or liability depending on your point of view. Things sometimes get interesting, as on the electroclash-esque rave-up “Do”, but it’s as a result of the minimalist beats being kicked up a notch on the bpm meter. In the long run, for each standout track on We Started Blues, there are three or four puffy songs that only stand in as filler. It’s not a good batting average when your album is only 11 tracks deep. What’s more, the band strives for, and fails to achieve, shock value by giving eyebrow-raising titles to songs like “Kill for Me” and “Blow Your Head Off”. Fake Babies try to be a sexy keyboard-heavy entity, but more often than not the only stew the band manages to cook up is an industrial mixture of white noise with no shape, no form, and no clear-cut identity.
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