From initially being an intriguing and pleasing presence in the ear to becoming a persistent and incessant returnee long after its departure, Of Losing Interest the new album from Fen is a thriving infection gone wild. Given the chance and deserved attention the album becomes a niggling treat for the psyche with its contagion of progressive melodic enterprise, insatiable rock n roll hooks, and mesmeric shadows. It is a release which expectations assumed would be decent going by recent history and reality shows is something far more impressive and deeply pleasing. It is an essential investigation for all which just falls short of making album of the year claims.
Of Losing Interest is the fifth album from the quartet from British Columbia which formed in 1998, and the second for Ripple Music. Previous album of 2010 Trails Out Of Gloom was the introduction for many of us to the sounds of the band, the critically acclaimed album a melancholic progressive weave to unsettle and ignite the senses. The new release is said to have taken its breath from further back in the history of the band, its heart returning to the more metallic and heavier aspects of early Fen. If that is so is for those acquainted with their first trio of albums to confirm but Of Losing Interest is certainly a robust and energetic beast as eclectic as you could wish and with muscles rippling and twisting with eagerness. It does not neglect its progressive imagination either and delivers lyrics and sounds wrapped tightly in the darkest shadows the band loves to frequent.
The album brings together a band line up first assembled in 1999 of vocalist/guitarist Doug Harrison, lead guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Jeff Caron, and Nando Polesel on drums. The foursome combine upon Of Losing Interest to offer nine tracks which thump the senses into eager submission whilst hypnotising them with a technical prowess and melodic invention which often leaves a shortage of breath in its wake. It inspires and thrills constantly to make the near forty minutes in its company only ever rewarding.
The album opens with Riddled and immediately ruffles the ear with explosive metallic riffs. It then settles into a melodic gait with the vocals of Harrison weaving his tones and words with a sure elegance whilst the guitars stroke the atmosphere with gentle imaginative invention. The beats of Polesel are strong though give the impression of a beast just waiting to burst from the cage the gentler stroll of the song allows whilst the bass of Caron stalks and prowls with menace and attitude. As the track evolves it throws of its ties to create a storming attack of sprawling riffs and inciteful rhythms. It is an outstanding start which immediately shows the intent and turn of direction in the sound of the band.
The title track saunters in next with further addiction making sounds and intent. Bringing a Tool like craft into a fusion of melodic enterprise and barbed hooks which would not be out of place in Soundgarden or early Bush compositions, the song lights up all the right spots inside and to be honest as enjoyable as their previous album was there is already the strongest feeling that this is where the band need to be, the sounds and songwriting so imaginative and vibrant.
Every song borders perfection but some rise to greater heights than others for personal taste, the first being Nice For Three Days with its bruising charm. It is an impactful distillery of bristling energies and caustic melodic rubs which leaves one gasping in delight. Imagine the feistiness stripped from the likes Mondo Generator and Foo Fighters and given extra volts of Kyuss attitude and you get Fen on this excellent song.
The explosive multi faceted The Glove takes one to greater plateaus next with its slightly Dog Fashion Disco spiced shifting interactive play for the senses. The song is an exploration of greedy riffs and teasing melodic manipulation which excites on every level. Drunken Relief and the closing Snake Path again leave one with raging fires of pleasure inside, the first being a dark weave of creative lyrics and oppressive yet incendiary sounds. The song one is magnetic, its shadowed heart nightmarish whilst fully compulsive. The final song leaves one wonderfully agitated with its unrelenting catchiness and irresistible energy. It is arguably the least involved song on the album but as deeply infectious and warmly inviting as any.
If the likes of Tool, Incubus, Porcupine Tree, Soundgarden do it for you than Fen and Of Losing Interest is a must. The album offers so much more though that all will find plenty of pleasure within its walls, it is melodic rock at its best.
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