It will have been a year since the release of Buyin’ Into Fantasy, the debut album from UK outfit FACTION STRUCTURE. Released through Perfect Pop Co-op, it was the first in a five album project created by the mysterious GAND?; an experimental adventure created and cast in the shadows of a world in turmoil.
It was a collection of imagination spun incitements dipping an inquisitive and exploratory finger into an extensive palette of styles and flavours to create uniqueness. Circles follows in the same vein, weaving its examinations and contemplations in an array of styles ranging from post punk, art pop, electro pop, Avant-new wave, experimental punk…….
As its predecessor, Circles is seeded within a world tumult, its tracks written under lockdown and as the first echoing the deep anxieties, paranoias, and apocalyptic foreboding of the moment. Yet as the world continues its course of turbulence within a sense of normality from pandemic freedom, the tracks just as powerfully fit; their lyrical prowess enabling certain observation and musing of the now.
Circles crawls the darkest corners and depths yet springs a constant virulence in sound and enterprise. It is more dancefloor friendly than the first album, well if your moves like ours are atypically sprung and delivered, but just as rich and hungry in its want even need to twist expectations and predictability out of shape. Its tracks are an open evolution of those which first gripped our ears and imagination, woven in fresh maturity and bolder in an appetite to engage the listener on all levels.
The album opens with its title track, Circles sauntering in on an electronic swing which soon had ears and hips involved. It is a controlled yet eager coaxing to which GAND? adds his familiar tones and individual lyrical weaving, the track never breaking into greater energy but relentlessly catchy all the while with its persistent gait driven by the bass of Dan K Brown of THE FIXX.
The enthralling start is more than cemented by In the Crowd, its mutant disco inclinations immediately dancing with instincts as punk hued aspects add to the growing adventure. Further veiled vocals skirt GANDS? tones, a vague but magnet flirtation making bolder impact across the album. The new wave jangle of the guitar only adds to the lip smacking enterprise surrounding ears before Skin on Skin launches its animated stroll of temptation and offbeat incitement to further manipulate our keenest attention; its declaration of desire just as involving of participation as Brown’s enlivened bass and the vibrant guest tones of Miss Tiggy Pop, both returning again upon No one can stop you.
Before then though, The Face You see On Saturdays bears a Fad Gadget meets early Human League like hue within its electronic shuffle, the eighties seeding the album’s sound often embraces a ripe tempting in the track while No one can stop you merges electro rock and pop in its contagious and fiery exploits. Like all songs, its challenges and seduces in equal measure, taking ears and imaginations to a place of aberrant enterprise and addictive infectiousness with the following Dependency similarly cunning and inviting in that two pronged incitement. There is an obsessive quality to the song too which just gripped ears, the alignment of a Josef K–esque jangle and Swell Maps like mania riveting.
Falling asleep at my desk is a shadow draped reflection set within a web of steely guitar threads, a day dream of escape within an otherworldly electronic realm enriched with flames of brass. It too has the touch of a puppeteer, its creative lines drawing out body, vocal and emotional involvement and setting up the appetite perfectly for the glorious babel of Soft Focus Hocus Pocus. Imagine early Adam and The Ants meets early XTC meets Wire and you get a sense of, if not the uniqueness, our favourite track upon Circles.
When destruction is your Skill is a rapacious affair, a prowling kaleidoscope of guitar wiring, electronic movement and off kilter enterprise curated by the ever magnetic tones of GAND?, the album continuing to stretch its and the listener’s imagination with viral resourcefulness.
Circles closes out with Tie a Piece of Cotton, a slice of warped pop ‘n’ roll wrapped in punk resonance and a track which had us hollering and bouncing with manic zeal. It’s understated yet eagerly busy exploits swiftly burrowed deep and across a mere minute and a half or so sprung crazed addiction, in itself and us.
Though only two albums in, the five album cycle that Circles continues feels a journey and adventure of sound which will persistently spring surprising propositions and surprising reactions, and taking FACTION STRUCTURE’S new album as a thick marker, rich pleasure.
Produced by GAND? and Steve Honest, Circles will be released through Perfect Pop Co-Op on Record Store Day, 15th April, 2023. It will be available as a vinyl LP limited to 50 via the band’s Bandcamp page from release day with the only physical store stocking the release being Empire Records in the band’s home city of St Albans.
RingMaster Review 02/12/2022
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