[14 August 2000]
Real estate agents will acknowledge that the division of a single piece of property often results in two parcels whose value, when added together, is greater than that of the original. When Scott Silletta left Plankeye a couple of years ago, the result was positive for all parties involved. Plankeye released Relocation, its best offering to date, and Silletta—determined to get back to basics—formed his new gig Fanmail.
Last year Fanmail enjoyed notoriety for its cover of “Every Breath You Take,” which ESPN wore out during coverage of the Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament. After their debut record The Latest Craze was released the band started receiving plenty of its namesake, garnering 56,000 hits on its web site in a mere two months.
With 2000, Fanmail isn’t breaking new ground in the punk realm. In fact, on this album the group plays it relatively safe. While other bands contemplate the newest (and silliest) craze—“glam-punk”—Fanmail resorts to a proven method, delivering an economical 35 minute batch of bone-jarring rock. This is commendable because it shows that Fanmail doesn’t take itself too seriously and acknowledges that life consists of more than head-banging. The band rocks, then politely gets out of the way.
The Japanese anime-style album art lets the listener know up front that this is a fun album. The jack-hammer riffs of “Breakdown” put one in the mood to practice tae kwan do in front of giant screen projections of old NASA footage. Or maybe one could visualize Speed Racer battling it out with the Mammoth Car. Yet the lyrics manage to sneak some depth into the midst of super-hero gyrations:
“On bent knees, so it seems
don’t always get what you ask for
Broken heart, seems to start
it’s the consequence that’s saving you…”
On “Competition” Silletta laments, “competition worries me/it brings out the best in you and the worst in me.” In short, 2000 leaves the listener with issues to ponder while toweling off and guzzling down a sports drink.
One of the finest moments on the record comes with “The Other Side,” Silletta’s tribute to engineer Gene Eugene, who died while 2000 was in production. Eugene had a long and respectable career in the Sothern California Christian rock scene, playing with groups Adam Again and Lost Dogs and producing Fold Zandura (where are they, by the way?). Pulling back the throttle, Silletta plays a stripped-down guitar straight through an amp, accompanied only by a tambourine.
The album’s density was enhanced by the engineering work of Andrew Prickett, formerly of The Prayer Chain (another phenomenal band that has left us hanging), who completed the assignment after Eugene’s passing.
The back cover art promises “More Action…More Thrills…More Rock Power!!!” At the very least Scott Silletta has re-invested the equity he accumulated with Plankeye well. For the listener needing a quick adrenaline rush, 2000 means more bang for the buck.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/fanmail-2000/