The Manual For Hard Living – Falcon Five-O
Best Element: Instantly catchy songs.
Label: Apple Valley Records
Life imitating art? Or art imitating life? That’s the question any listener may pose at the end of Falcon Five-O’s “The Manual to Hard Living”, a fourteen song ‘concept album’ about being a slacker. I put concept album in quotations because I’m not sure if it was intended to be a concept album- but this album doesn’t have one single song that isn’t about slacking off. Some songs even have repeated lyrical themes- the slacker says more than once that he wants to get out of his hometown, talks about how he drinks way too much, and how he’s going crazy in his current situation. It’s so convincing…is it art or biography?
I don’t think I want to know- if FFO keeps turning out songs as good as “Failure’s Not the Same Without You”, then I don’t care. FFO is a power-pop band, and this song is a brilliant example of their craft. A simple guitar ditty, a three-chord chorus, a deadly vocal hook into the chorus, and clever lyrics (“Back to swearing just to pass the time…”) all turn this into a wonderfully singable, immediately memorable song. But the bright-shiny slacker sheen of “Failure…” is overshadowed by the very next track, the standout “A Nice Place to Visit”.
The most personal track on the album, “A Nice Place to Visit” lays out all the facts, upsides, downsides, and random facts about being a slacker. He contemplates leaving his hometown, but he admits he will never change, and so he knows he’s not going to leave. He just wishes he would/could. His girlfriend bitches him out all the time- he drinks too much- he wishes he could do better, but really just can’t. It’s an amazing song, and it’s a standout musically, as well.
“The Wedding Song” features a charging guitar riff and a nice stop/start syncopation; “Dirty Hot Girl” features a…well….dirty skankin’ beat; The riotously funny straight-up pop of “Work’s Not Working Out For Me” could not be more fun; the mellow “Truth Is” features a great unexpected guitar line.
All in all, this is an extremely good power-pop album. It’s catchy, it’s hilarious, it’s fun to sing to, it’s got fast, it’s got slow, it’s got emotion- it’s everything you want. If you like happy music, get this. It will be your album of the month. Maybe even the quarter. And maybe….just maybe…the year. But that could be working a little too hard.