Fear of Men

Fall Forever

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    7
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On their second full-length, British indie pop trio Fear of Men continue to experiment with sonic textures while delivering stark, confessional lyrics. Musically, the album is far subtler than their astonishing 2014 debut full-length Loom or the group's initial material collected on the 2013 release Early Fragments. Instead of featuring jangly guitars laced with noisy feedback, occasionally building up to intense, cathartic climaxes, Fall Forever is graced by atmospheric, drifting guitars and thin layers of cold synths. The album is much more spacious than the previous one, with delicate voices floating over the stiff drumbeats. As with the group's prior recordings, Jessica Weiss' biting lyrics grab hold of you, and they're just as brutal as ever on this album. While she never raises her voice above a calm, conversational tone, her sharp, accusatory words are like arrows that shoot deep inside. What's impressive is how harsh thoughts like "you tell me impossible things that shake me to my core" and "you'll never be the one that breaks me inside" are delivered coolly and with pleasant melodies. The album's most straightforward, catchy song begins by bluntly stating "You give me trauma" -- yikes! As with the previous album, Fall Forever ends with a breakup song, but unlike Loom's devastating acoustic closer "Atla," "Onsra" doesn't stand out through simplicity or directness. It begins with cold, shuddering drumbeats and swelling strings, breaking down for a mournful, drumless second half with Weiss lamenting "I don't need you, but I want you so much." While it's clear that Fear of Men are branching out and exploring different sounds and techniques on this album, the warmth of the first album is missing, and the songs don't always benefit from the experimentation. The drums feel lifeless, and the hooks are buried by the abstract arrangements. The lyrics are still striking, and some of the songs are strong, but Fall Forever mostly succeeds lyrically rather than musically.

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