The first word that comes to mind when asked to describe
Matthew Fountain and the Whereabouts‘
Born on the Hook is “eclectic”. Throughout the record’s nine songs, each plays with a different and wildly wide-ranging set of organic and synthetic instrumentation to develop a unique soundscape for listeners to inhabit. From symphonic strings and Spanish guitar to electronic melodies and synthetic drums, Fountain daringly pulls influences as far-flung from one another as possible and melds them into a cohesive whole.
Yet, the album is also anything but disjointed. Beyond the sheer cerebral intensity of Fountain’s arrangements, there’s an ever-present pathos that persists throughout the breadth of his work. Perhaps all too fairly given the adventuresome aural diversity of the album,
Born on the Hook has a whole lot to do with individual reactions to the unknown.
Fountain himself says as much in his statement on the album: “I didn’t start out with an agenda of what this album would be about, but after the songs were written I did notice a thread that connects them. They’re all, in some way, about how we deal with the unknown. How it attracts us and repels us. About the dangers that we face by embracing it versus not. It’s as much an emotional thread as it is a lyrical one. To me, it’s a feeling similar to walking into a big church designed to both draw you in with its beauty and intimidate you with its symbols. That intersection of fear and desire—of awe—is what I seem to be consistently trying to express.
“Also, we can’t help but for our art to be influenced emotionally by the state of the world in some way. I think most of us are afraid for our future, and for a good reason. And one of the effects of this is that it sometimes makes us cling to overly defined ideas about who we are and why we do what we do. But sometimes the more narrowly we define ourselves and our world, the more threatening and seductive other possibilities become. So that suspended state that comes out on the album is maybe just my way of working through what a lot of people are feeling—of wanting to pretend the world is less complicated than it is in order to keep hopeful.”