General Fiasco's debut album doesn't let alcoholic friends, boredom and angst slow it down
General Fiasco like belting out a heady, soaring chorus. They really like it. Even if you find the Derry trio's preference for jangly pop a bit too sugary on first listen, you'll soon be won over by their ability to craft a cracker tune which embeds itself in the back of your head like a bar of highland toffee.
Exhibit A: on 'Ever So Shy' singing bassist Owen Strathern shouts 'You better wake up!', with a hook reminiscent of a young Downpatrick trio, Ash, (who in the early days, also put out records on the Infectious label). Strathern's simple lyrics convey stories about the stresses of everyday life, relationships, and even the issue of suicide, with a cheery upbeat soundtrack.
Exhibit B: the latest single, 'Ever So Shy' tells the realisation of how much alcohol was needed to form relationships or even talk to people, 'Let's get wasted/That's all we ever do/We're so stupid/That's okay the drunks are your friends.' It also bangs out the catchiest riff and chorus on Buildings.
Of course, a catchy hook doesn't necessarily make a great song, but a good measure of a gorgeous pop record is when you find yourself humming it while sloshing milk on your Rice Krispies the next morning -with General Fiasco you will be hearing snap, pop and pop. The playful melody of 'We Are The Foolish' delivers a singalong not heard from a Northern Irish band in an age and title track 'Buildings' does what it says on the tin: a nicely layered song with trumpets and spiralling strings.
Buildings isn't without its weak points though. 'Rebel Gets By' is a bit of a letdown, thanks to an over-protective edit that saps the energy from the percussion, resulting in a forgettable tune. Likewise, 'Dancing With Girls' feels pedestrian.
Things improve with 'Sinking Ships' - perhaps General Fiasco's most mature track to date - Strathern gets to show off the dexterity in his voice, with unusual vocal shifts complemented by a swelling string accompaniment. 'Talk To My Friends' shows a splash of indie-electro that could easily engage a dancefloor and 'First Impressions' closes the debut on a high.
Overall, the General Fiasco debut LP is a bit too 'safe' sounding in parts, and the overbearing production can be stifling. However, with the announcement that the trio are to record their next single with producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters), perhaps the energy will be more liberally transferred on the recording.
As it stands, the album is fit to burst with tunes destined for the charts, so if your guilty pleasure is singing along to an album of unashamedly disposable pop music, then you may well find it in Buildings.