Fair to Midland

Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True

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With multi-genre crossovers currently all the rage in the rock and alternative scenes, critics are left to fumble desperately about for labels. Fair to Midland make it tougher than most: neo-prog or prog-core anyone? In any event, after two self-released albums, the Texan cult heroes renowned for their explosive live shows signed to the Serjical Strike label, run by System of a Down's Serj Tankian, a band that Fair occasionally tries to emulate, and cemented the deal with 2006's The Drawn and Quartered EP. Demo versions of "Kyla Cries Cologne" and "A Seafarer's Knot" were featured on that disc but appear on the group's stunning full-length Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True in all their glory. Producer David Bottrill gives the band a well-deserved epic sound, reminiscent of the '70s with a big, clean style that highlights the group's virtuosity and their amazing dynamics. Those dynamics come instantly into play on the set's opening number and first single, "Dance of the Manatee," as the group shift from U2-ish swelling, chiming, guitar passages into thundering hard rock. Singer Darroh Suddereth follows suit, careening between alt rock to classic rock vocals, then down into the menacing growl of metalcore. And it's the bandmembers' amazing ability to adroitly shift styles on a dime that impresses, but not as much as their talent to sound phenomenal in them all. Check out the lovely Spanish guitars on "Vice/Versa," the piano arpeggios on "April Fools and Eggmen," the funky rhythm and swooping keyboards on "Walls of Jericho," the haunting atmosphere of "Say When," and the assaultive guitar attacks across the set for proof. That latter number pulls the band at times into C&W, "April Fools" juxtaposes a tinge of U.K. folk with modern metal, while "A Seafarer's Knot" arguably catches them at their proggy best. "The Wife, The Kids, And the White Picket Fence" displays the band at their most epic, as the group slide straight into rousing emo. Once upon a time the quintet may have been no more than fair to middling, but now they're successfully reaching for greatness.

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