To be honest, I’ve lost my focus this week. Easter has been kind and one of my songs got picked up by BBC Radio 6, somehow making it all the way onto a playlist (for reals, listen from 2hrs 54). As someone who works on his own with few overheads and little help, it’s quite a cool thing to happen. So my brain isn’t in the best place to do a nuanced musical discussion and fight any particular corner except pleasure. Then, as an added extra; one of the two pillars of my musical childhood (with the other being Bowie) is releasing a new album after 18 years of silence. Faith No More are back. So this post will not be nuanced, it will not be balanced, it will be full on fan-boy action and in the process you just learn learn that little bit more about me. Hooray! Of course, I couldn’t use this opportunity without making a point; anyone that knows FNM will wonder why Angel Dust isn’t in the title. That particular album effectively shattered the box that metal had backed itself into; it hopped around the genres like a hammer and didn’t care what you thought about it. It’s almost impossible to put into words the influence it had. Yet I don’t want to talk about it, even though ‘Caffeine‘ is sublime. Today, my friends, we will talk of what came next: King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime.
I used to watch this when dial-up was still cool
If Angel Dust shattered the box, King for a Day pranced around provocatively in the ashes. This album didn’t use the clean slate afforded by Angel Dust to build a new image for the group; it used it to break the floor the box had been standing on. Unfortunately this came as a shock to most of the music press who greeted it with lukewarm reviews. Metal Hammer even went so far as to call it a “crushing disappointment” which was particularly odd as FNM never set out to please anybody, it is the precise reason they are loved and loathed to such extremes. Case in point, I have a friend who sees Mike Patton as an attention seeking weirdo who uses silly voices for lack of imagination; I, on the other hand, see him as nothing short of a visionary and one of the main reasons I don’t really care too much what people think of me or my music. We argued for years as to who was more talented, Patton or Rahzel. What King for a Day did was show that FNM were a band that would do what they wanted regardless, embodying the true spirit of Punk while at it. One of the main criticisms leveled at this album is that it is too diverse and shifts genres too often. One of the main strengths I see in this album is that it is utterly diverse and constantly shifts genres. When you acknowledge that both sides of the argument exist then we can all just move on and focus on the songs.
I love these songs. I love that in one album I can hit the soulful highs of ‘Take this Bottle‘ before wading through the angsty bile of ‘The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies‘. It makes me respect the band so much more knowing that they love music enough to be able to pastiche different styles so cleanly. It takes serious skill beyond the technical. To think that the same group who arranged the maniacal ‘Star A.D.‘ stretched ‘The Last To Know‘ into a euphoric commune with the infinite. Maybe it’s just me but brains are infinitely more sexy than brawn; I prefer a well applied scalpel to a sledgehammer. That said, FNM’s main strength is that they have both, and can pummel gladly when the need arises. It’s something woefully lacking in almost all music (though to be fair, it always has been). The nearest we get is a band shifting style en masse from one album to the next (like Mumford & Sons) in a cynical attempt to maintain longevity. It makes you wonder; should a band have the talent to tackle different types of music, why didn’t they in the first place? Many an act has lost my respect this way. But not Faith No More. They demanded respect with this album. I gave it in spades.
Sol Invictus is out on May 19th. I can't wait, can you? Add thoughts below, yo.