Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Fadeout's female-fronted trip-hop speeds up the formula

March 7, 2010

Yesterday’s Kings and Queens review referenced Portishead heavily. Then I came upon Fadeout, whose sound draws on Portishead’s to an even greater degree. I knew I had to put the two reviews back to back, or people are going to start thinking I only listen to four bands, one of them being Portishead.

But it’s really an unavoidable comparison. Both bands play downtempo, moody, atmospheric rock that has a strong emphasis on groove, rhythm and female vocals (this is where Kings and Queens diverge, as Rich Good is a dude). Portishead is much more minimalist than Fadeout, in that they use space almost as another instrument in their way-slowed-down music. But both bands seem to be aiming for a similar musical space.

“Sanctuary (Transposed edit)” is the closest Fadeout comes to channeling the aforementioned forefathers, as the tune plods along with a desperate vocal line accentuating washes of synths and forlorn, high bass notes. But from there, they take a more energetic tack. “Homeless” features a driving drum beat to accompany the dreamy synths. Standout track “Time” pairs the desperate vocal mood of “Sanctuary” with a snare-heavy drum beat, ethereal background vocals, and stabbing guitar. “What’s All About” has a restrained energy that lets the female vocalist showcase her pipes, and she displays a tone very similar to Stevie Nicks. It’s another highlight.

Where Kings & Queens were able to make each track a distinct entity, the same is less true of Fadeout. Because so many of these songs fall in the same mood and style, it’s hard to distinguish one from another. When listening to the album as a whole, it becomes similar to one big song. To some, this is a statement of quality. To others, it’s a problem. I’ll leave you to decide which side of the fence you fall on.

Fadeout’s aesthetic is honed pretty tightly, in that they don’t have much that I can rag on. Their one problem that I noted might not even be a problem to some people. If you’re a fan of downtempo, girl-fronted, trip-hop/indie-rock, Fadeout is a good bet.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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