Fossil Collective: Tell Where I Lie

This acoustic-tinged debut is certainly no knockout, but it's also too pleasant and skilled to be dismissed as mere fashionable radio-friendly fancy, either.

Fossil Collective

Tell Where I Lie

Label: Dirty Hit
US Release Date: 2013-04-08
UK Release Date: 2013-04-08
Label Website
Artist Website

Rising phoenix-like from the ashes of buzzy Leeds-area art-rock outfit Vib Gyor, Fossil Collective aims for and mostly accomplishes a light tone of ethereal mood-rock. The new project of that former band's singer Dave Fendick and drummer Jonny Hooker often sparkles with acoustic luster and radio-friendly sheen, even if it also mostly unfolds in predictable ways.

Fossil Collective's debut Tell Where I Lie is certainly no knockout, but it's also too pleasant and skilled to be dismissed as mere fashionable radio-friendly fancy, either. It certainly commences in a manner that suggests such fancy, mind you. Strummy vocal folk-pop cuts like "Let It Go" and "Wolves" (singles with music videos, both) dominate the record's initial stretch. "Wolves" is tricked out with hints of electronic burbles and piano colorings and carries greater interest to the discerning listener, but "Let It Go" is more of a conceivable commercial breakthrough. With its recognizable melody and unthreatening sense of scrubbed melancholy, it seems destined to score the closing scene of some mid-season episode of a network drama, if not an alternative-minded car ad campaign somewhere soon enough.

As such folk-rock albums with evident commercial tendencies often do, Tell Where I Lie grows more appealing and less compromised as it wears on. There's some gorgeous falsetto vocal harmonizing in the manner of Crosby, Stills and Nash or contemporary Texan outfit Midlake on full display throughout ("On and On" suggests the latter act in nigh-on plagiaristic particulars). Nowhere is this element more prominent and well-employed in the midst of the impeccably minimalist mid-album highlight "Monument". A resonant three-note electric guitar form seems to forebode something explosive, but instead settles into a strings-assisted low boil of comforting warmth rather than scalding heat. It's a lovely achievement, probably the best that Fendick and Hooker have on offer here.

Seven-minute pastoral dreamscape "The Magpie" is also a minor wonder, floating on vocal harmony and woody notes before its stunning and patient breakdown and rebuild of organ, piano solos, and dopplering synthetic noise lifts it to the stars. Closing lo-fi ballad "How Was I to Know" embraces the elegiac mystery lurking in "the corners of the night", and brings the record to a stronger end than it has a beginning. Even this less-arresting opening section boasts "Under My Arrest", a sensitively-balanced composition that manages to be achingly pretty without cynically indulging the obviously saccharine.

With these later successes as well as their concurrent concessions to popular appeal, Fossil Collective fulfills what scant promise lies buried in their name and their calming musical pedigree. Their sonic brushes clear away the dirt from the bones unearthed from their chosen excavation pits, revealing the ossified details of their forebears but only as much about their own nature as can be ascertained in contrast with that of those same predecessors. Fendick and Hooker might find that their Collective could produce more rewarding material if they leave aside older artifacts and crafts shiny new objects entirely of their own hands.






Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.