Elevate Difference

Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made

Fol Chen could be one of those bands in which every member writes his or her own tracks and then, sheet music assembled in a stack, the group comes together to record without any concern for cohesion. This can result in an annoyingly disjointed album, or an inspiring mix of treasures. For this debut release, it’s a bit of both. With unidentifiable samples and influences from seemingly every corner of the globe, it’s difficult to get more specific than calling the band’s overall sound “electro-pop.”

As most other reviews of this album will explain, “Cable TV” is the catchy track that makes the rest of Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made feel sort of empty. Did you ever think that free cable at a hotel was a big deal when you were a kid? Did you ever have a teenage birthday party at the local Holiday Inn so you and your friends could all swim? Do you enjoy the occasional adult rendezvous weekend that includes Pay-Per-View and a nameless king size bed? Then this is the song for you.

The other standout, “You and Your Sister in Jericho,” is a slower, angst-infused ballad about youthful hair-dying, pot-smoking experimentation that devolves into a lyric-less, horn-infested plod by the end of its six minutes. “The Believers” seems to be about brainwashed religious zealots, complete with its repeated chorus of “Don’t follow me.” “No Wedding Cake” insists, “I could never break your heart again,” which is a comforting sentiment, considering lifelong commitment is hopefully based on a mutual desire to share vulnerable love.

Stick with the singles and wait for the follow up. These folks have tons of promise and already produced a few gems. Still, I believe there is a more consistent, fully formed album in Fol Chen’s future.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, March 11th 2009