Fixers – We’ll Be The Moon
Released: 18/06/2012 on Dolphin Love
There really does have to be something in the water in Oxford these days. From quirky genre-bending acts like Jonquil to intelligent indie folk bands such as Stornoway, a considerable amount of the UK's new musical talent seems to be emerging from the city of the erudite. Now, we can add Fixers to the ever increasing list of Oxford based artists releasing astonishingly good debut albums. After what appears to have been some drawn-out trouble with their label, Vertigo, the experimental, psychedelic five piece have finally released We'll Be The Moon on their own small label. And it's been worth the wait.
The album kicks off with the stomping, synthy 'Majesties Ranch', and as is oft remarked, immediately the Beach Boys spring to mind (Fixers have been widely and flatteringly described as an "avant-garde Beach Boys"). The best way I can describe 'Majesties Ranch' is if Brian Wilson visited some jungle-dwelling tribe, then came back to California spear in hand and went on a surfer killing spree - and then written a jaunty little tune about it. You'll understand when you hear it, trust me. While it's an intriguing opening track, it's far overshadowed by what follows. 'Floating Up' is what its title suggests - it's dreamy, hazy and genuinely creates a feeling of floating away when listening to it. Heavenly.
The album quickly moves on to another one of its highlights, former single 'Iron Deer Dream', the kind of camp yet dark psychedelica that's just so easy to love - the rhythm and melody work fantastically together to suck you right in. You'll start off with your foot tapping and by the time the chorus comes around for the second time you'll be on your feet dancing and singing "You are homicidal" with gleeful abandon. The same goes for 'Swimmhaus Johannesburg', another single tacked onto the end of the LP. I also really love a lead singer that can make some good "woah-woah" sounds, as demonstrated by Jack Goldstein on the dramatic 'Dais Flowers' and cheerfully retro 'Crystals'. 'Dais Flowers' also contains some genius opening lines: "Can you feel my inky tentacles/Wrapped in a soft hug/So unloveable" - get it? He's like a SAD OCTOPUS. Imagine what that would look like. Now, doesn't your heart hurt just a little?
I find myself writing this a lot in reviews, but the album does tail off poorly towards the end (which suggests to me that this is partly something to do with reviewer fatigue and not just declining song quality alone). The spacey, psychedelic-ness of it all gets a bit much for me by 'Amsterdam', which veers erratically from being delicate and lovely to wildly irritating and over-embellished. 'Really Great World' and 'Goodnight' are also just a little too twee, with Goldstein's vocals on the latter distorted to sound not unlike Barney the Purple Dinosaur during certain refrains. It might keep your kids quiet in the car for a bit, but it'll also make you want to dive headfirst out of the passenger door.
Despite the inclusion of these three tracks, Fixers have produced something that although may have some undeniable influences, is still very much a unique and innovative body of work. Each track is immaculately produced, every last buzz and bleep and hum and yelp there for a reason. When it comes to psychedelic pop, what more could you possibly want?
Turn On: Floating Up, Iron Deer Dream, Dais Flowers
Turn Off: Amsterdam, Really Great World.