Film School changed quite a bit over the course of the band’s career, seemingly tweaking their lineup and fine-tuning their sound with almost every release -- all while retaining the same shoegaze and post-punk-inspired approach. And though their roster remains the same here as it did on 2007’s Hideout, Fission finds them drawing on different influences than their previous work suggested. This time, the band replaces Hideout's My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain-like towering walls of guitars with a more eclectic sound. “Heart Full of Pentagons” shows immediately just how much the band has changed: Putting bassist Lorelei Plotczyk's voice atop a delicate programmed beat and sunny guitars, the song sounds more like Asobi Seksu than anything dark or post-punky. Plotczyk is responsible for several of Fission's standouts, including the whispery allure of “Time to Listen” and the indie-pop jangle of “Sunny Day.” Greg Bertens has several star turns as well, particularly “Meet Around 10,” which recalls Lush -- except with a guy singing lead -- the earnest “Bones,” which recalls the band’s former tour-mates the National and “Waited,” a fuzzy, tone-bending duet with Plotczyk that sounds like a song that somehow fell off of Yo La Tengo's Painful. Therein lies the blessing and the curse of Film School: they pull off so many sounds so well on Fission that it’s hard to tell if it’s because they’ve got remarkable breadth or just lack of depth. The band hops from sound to sound and song to song in a way that lacks authority and flow, even if each track sounds like a hit indie single on its own. However, songs like “Direct,” a sleek blend of live and programmed drums, primal fuzz bass and synths, prove that Film School can create songs that don’t just sound good, but fresh as well. Even when Fission sounds more like a singles collection than a cohesive album, it’s still enjoyable, and easily some of the band’s most accessible work.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares