The Fever: Red Bedroom

Devon Powers

The Fever

Red Bedroom

Label: Kemado
US Release Date: 2004-05-18
UK Release Date: Available as import

Geremy Jasper's singing is temperamental and bratty, hurled out like insults from the mouth of a sassy adolescent. Overtop the catapults and javelins of his band's instrumentalists -- pogoing drum beats, elastic bass, and springy guitars that fly out like Jacks-in-the-Box -- the Fever is a band whose kinetics are so ferocious, keeping up can be exhausting. Listening quickly becomes an act of simply trying to hold on, as the vehicle of their sound careens about haphazardly, without controls, without breaks.

This is not to say that the Fever are sloppy or even necessarily reckless. Au contraire: the five-piece work cleanly and cautiously within the confines of contemporary postpunk, like a wild driver on a bumper car course. And like that hellcat behind the wheel, no matter how fast or frenzied things get, the danger -- and even excitement -- is always reined in by the track's borders.

To their credit, in their best moments they sound rare and animate, so vibrantly on fire that they cross over from just pleasant into highly enjoyable and contagiously listenable. The jagged bounce of "Gray Ghost" and acrid jumble "Hexxxed" are fireworks hot and similarly surprising -- explosive, shimmery, bursts. "Put It on You", a curious mix of rockabilly and postpunk, is one of the album's most memorable numbers, despite its less-than-racer pace. Jasper's voice isn't great -- grating might be a more accurate description -- but he works what's he's got to its fullest extent. He keeps that sneer up in his head then bleats as if all the orifices in his head are itching, a haughty irritation that sticks in your head like a burr. His voice and their party-time lyrics (full of "zebra's stripes", "real cool jerks", and "whip cracks") paint a sultry-sordid picture over their musical canon, twinging in minor tones and slamming all over as every instrument is tuned almost to the level of distortion.

Still, anybody who argues that the Fever play it relatively safe and have few innovations is right, too. The dance-punk mania having long since moved from hip-shaking to yawn inducing, the cynical listener may find Fever's pomp and pizzazz to be a rather comical reminder of how we partied when it was 1999 (or, at least, 2001). If only we were so young and fresh to be as easily excitable as the Fever-ish crew sound on "Ladyfingers"! If only '80s-ish synth and mechanical basslines were still interesting! If only Jasper's pissy spits on "Artificial Heart" called to mind a soul full of vinegar rather than a trust fund full of Benjamins! To put it bluntly, too many years of Vice magazine and PBR-sponsored rock shows have made differentiating between truth and artifice, soul and artful soullessness, not only a harrowing but also a boring endeavor. Relative latecomers like the Fever suffer from our jadedness, however earnest they might be.

Thus, it's tough to say whether The Fever should be appreciated or disdained for going apeshit within well-worn terrain. As lame as it is to be trend-conscious -- disparaging music simply for appearing unfashionably late -- it's just as depressing to think that there's nothing a tad more curious to be done with a guitar, a bass, a keyboard, a kit, and a singer. Jamming to Red Bedroom feels like going to the local chain restaurant and ordering the same thing you always do. If it's safe and relatively tasty, so be it. But sometimes, don't you want to be nourished by that which leaves a taste in your mouth and a fire in your belly?

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.