Plumbiferous Media

Three Fact Fader - Engineers

Jul 12th 2009
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Three Fact Fader - EngineersEngineers
Three Fact Fader
Score: 68








Engi­neers, a four-man band from Lon­don influ­enced by a range of music from elec­tron­ic to shoegaze, began releas­ing music in 2004 with an EP, Fol­ly, and fol­lowed that up six months lat­er with their first, self-titled LP, which was well received. Their newest LP, Three Fact Fad­er, released July 6th, demon­strates their cre­ativ­i­ty and skill as they con­tin­ue to evolve - though it lacks vari­a­tion.

Through­out Three Fact Fad­er, Simon Phipps’s voice is expert­ly woven into the music. Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly del­i­cate and deep, Phipps’s voice imparts an unearth­ly aes­thet­ic to the music. The lofty sound, which dis­tin­guish­es Three Fact Fad­er, cre­ates an extreme­ly well-designed, mul­ti-lay­ered album, with­in which the vocals serve as much more than a sin­gle stra­tum. It’s not only the lay­er­ing of vocal lines on tracks like “Some­times I Realise” that cre­ates this effect, but also the shift­ing style of the vocals, which cre­ates a flu­id expe­ri­ence.

Engi­neers employs a num­ber of instru­men­tal tech­niques to cre­ate the con­stant sound that it strives to attain. While cer­tain instru­ments are not always used suc­cess­ful­ly, such as the well played but overzeal­ous drum line of “Crawl from the Wreck­age,” or the string sound that doesn’t quite fit the end of “Helped by Sci­ence?,” Engi­neers gen­er­al­ly fits instru­men­tal lines into the sound quite expert­ly. In con­trast to “Helped By Sci­ence?” the string part that dom­i­nates the final minute of “Emer­gency Room” uses an inter­est­ing pro­gres­sion to com­plete the track quite nice­ly.  The best gui­tar exam­ple lies around the 4:35 mark of “Brighter as We Fall,” when the gui­tar sud­den­ly switch­es to a much more dense, uni­form rhythm, adding a need­ed, though sub­tle change to the rel­a­tive­ly long track. The synth also has some par­tic­u­lar­ly excel­lent sec­tions, includ­ing its first entrance on “Hang Your Head,” where it slow­ly increas­es in vol­ume while play­ing off of the gui­tar line.

While the indi­vid­ual tracks of Three Fact Fad­er are gen­er­al­ly quite well played, the album as a whole suf­fers from a severe lack of diver­si­ty. Not only do many tracks retain the same sound as a num­ber of pre­ced­ing tracks, but even when tracks dif­fer sig­nif­i­cant­ly as far as instru­men­ta­tion goes, chords and pro­gres­sions are heav­i­ly repeat­ed across tracks. And while the first sig­nif­i­cant use of build­ing vol­ume might have served to sep­a­rate “Brighter as We Fall” (which was already one of the more dis­tinct tracks, with its clear­er vocals and over­all lighter sound) from the pre­vi­ous four tracks, the same tech­nique, used repeat­ed­ly through­out the album, los­es its effec­tive­ness.

Three Fact Fad­er is filled with the abstract metaphors befit­ting its ethe­re­al sound, as Engi­neers proves itself quite adept at craft­ing lyrics that cre­ate detailed, col­or­ful images. The “clean coloured wire” of the open­ing track is the first exam­ple of this imagery, as the “wire” serves as a sort of thread through real­i­ty. The album is filled with such writ­ing, both in the form of metonymy and descrip­tion, demon­strat­ed as Phipps observes thought-pro­vok­ing ideas, from “faith stead­fast / chal­lenged by a nee­dle,” to the thought that “beneath that hunger lies a warn­ing no one cares to heed,” to the despair­ing admo­ni­tions of “Song for Andy,” which mix­es harsh real­i­ty with the sur­re­al air of the album. In this man­ner, Engi­neers has imbued its album with deep, thought­ful lyrics which skill­ful­ly draw the inter­est of the lis­ten­er. At the same time, how­ev­er, the lyrics occa­sion­al­ly fall into rep­e­ti­tion, as with the line “Does it feel right? / If it feels right,” repeat­ed far too many times through “Inter­na­tion­al Dirge.” This doesn’t have the pow­er to com­plete­ly dimin­ish the lyri­cal tri­umphs of Three Fact Fad­er, but it cer­tain­ly lessens their draw, as it has the ten­den­cy to bore the lis­ten­er.

Near­ly every ele­ment used on Three Fact Fad­er was both con­struct­ed and record­ed suc­cess­ful­ly, but only as far as indi­vid­ual tracks were con­cerned. The largest prob­lem with the album is a lack of diver­si­ty between tracks. This affects the album sig­nif­i­cant­ly enough that the last three tracks, which seemed the result of Engi­neers real­iz­ing that the album lacked diver­si­ty - “The Fear Has Gone” uses a slow string line to start the track, while “Be What You Are” uses a strong acoustic gui­tar and “What Pushed Us Togeth­er” a quite active synth - even begin to blend in with the rest of the album, sim­ply through sim­i­lar har­monies and vocal lines. While Engi­neers cer­tain­ly wrote many strong tracks, tak­en togeth­er, the tracks do not form quite as strong an album.


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