On first listen, File Underwater’s Flu’id sounds sadly like another Nine Inch Nails rip-off. Desperate to achieve the same level of dark sonic ambience, File Underwater combines slamming guitars with poorly executed programmed drumbeats. Singer Don Bodin seems to have worked hard perfecting the whine in his voice to express his pain. It’s all pretentious and mostly annoying. But if you can get passed that, it’s almost borders on being good. Almost.
Flu’id begins with the forgettable “Silent” and meanders through the next several songs. Even the promising “Malificent’s Demise” is too bogged down in everything that makes File Underwater less than compelling. With cringe-worthy lyrics like “Her victim’s rarely fight / Off without a fight / It burns like ice / She’s got a vice” this song can pretty much be disregarded. However, once “Strip” begins, Flu’id picks up a bit. Instead of attempting to be what they are not, File Underwater plays this song pretty straightforward, not relying on uninspired and obnoxious sounds. It’s not a great song, but it is, at least, less annoying than the ones that came before it.
The rest of Flu’id is pretty mixed, both musically and lyrically. Depending too much on cliched goth standards, Dobin’s lyrics are darkly trite and dull. Still, they compliment the music pretty well, which is likewise trite and dull, so it actually works out to be a pretty good combination. Unfortunately, any song that shows any sort of promise musically is quite often ruined once the words are taken into account, such as the intriguing, world-beat inspired “Acropolis” that features lines like “You’ll awake from this pain / Come back to me again.”
File Underwater could have been worse, though, and the fact that they’re not is something to be grateful for. Almost completely devoid of anything that sounds inspired or original, Flu’id mostly exists, offering nothing new. It’s impossible to hate because there’s not anything striking enough to dislike, but at the same time, it’s impossible to actually like it, either. It has nothing to share with anyone, and is fortunately completely forgettable.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.
// Notes from the Road
"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.READ the article