Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Fashion can be a fickle beast. Three years ago Fischerspooner could do no wrong. They looked fantastic, they gave good interview and they’d recorded a great debut album. In short, they were the favourites of journalists and fashionistas alike and the world was theirs for the taking.

But then, as is the wont in tales of this type, things started to go awry. They released an album, 2002’s ‘#1’, to a grand total of absolutely no sales at all. Not only did it fail to dent the chart, it barely even left a scuffmark on pop’s shiny surface. But that’s hacks and slavish fashion sheep for you. They might claim to like a record but that’s no guarantee that the majority of people making the assertion have ever heard it or even harbour the slightest desire to do so. Shot by the hand that feeds and all that.

Anyway, three years is a long time in music and an eternity in fashion. Which quite possibly goes in Fischerspooner’s favour. Last time around there was such a proliferation of like-minded bands that Fischerspooner were merely part of the crowd and probably missed out on a lot of the credit that they would have otherwise been afforded. But now, divorced from the vagaries of scene mongering and electroclash, it’s possible to judge them purely on the terms of their music, rather than as a prevailing trend.

And ‘Odyssey’ stands up to scrutiny very well. Their cover of Wire’s ‘The 15th’, on ‘#1’, should have suggested that there was more to Messers Fischer and Spooner than first met the elaborately made-up eye. Actually, Wire work well as a point of reference here. Much of ‘Odyssey’ is informed with a similar feel to Wire’s ‘154’, only run through a sequencer rather than bashed out with the more traditional drums, bass and guitar. If you take LCD Soundsystem as a barometer of modern post-punk, then, much as the likes of Q & Not U and Les Savy Fav are only a couple of steps more rock than James Murphy, Fischerspooner are merely one step less rock than the DFA boys.

In theory, ‘Odyssey’ represents Fischerspooner’s attempt to reconcile their music with their more traditionally rock based influences, including, at least according to the sleeve notes, the Stooges, Bowie and My Bloody Valentine. But filtered through a big shiny box scrawled with the legend dance-floor filler. In reality, this doesn’t make for any major sonic leap forward, or backward depending on how you look at these things, but it does make for a more coherent sounding record. ‘Just Let Go’ is probably the nearest that you’ll get to an ‘Emerge’ on here, all throbbing disco beats and pulsing rhythms, interspersed with stuttering guitars. ‘Cloud’ is closer to the electroclash (computer)blueprint, with its hint of Duran Duran, while ‘We Need A War’ takes a Susan Sontag lyric and turns it into a Pet Shop Boys classic that Neil Tennant forgot to write. And ‘Circle’ is, as much as this may take you by surprise, a Boredoms cover.

Three years ago, Fischerspooner came dangerously close to being written off as a pair of vacant performance-art chancers that had got lucky. ‘Odyssey’ shows that we should consider ourselves lucky that they bothered to stick around long enough to give it another try.

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