The Fakes' Real Fiction works better as a manifesto project than a listening experience. The band is a Traveling Wilburys of the Olympia, WA, indie set, with primary players including Bikini Kill and Le Tigre singer Kathleen Hanna, Nation of Ulysses and Fucking Champs guitarist Tim Green, and Kicking Giant and the Need drummer Rachel Carns. Their sole album is designed as something of a rock opera, but without a lyric sheet (and with song titles apparently listed entirely out of running order), it's difficult to ascertain a story line. There is, however, a clear theme of confronting sexual abuse, its perpetrators, and the scars of survivors. "This is not a piece of art, this is my life," guest Billie Strain says with angry vulnerability at a spoken word piece. In another song, Hanna appropriates lyrics from the Charlie Rich hit "The Most Beautiful Girl" and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" to draw an especially creepy portrait of a predator. Sonically, however, the album is less compelling, a mish-mash of ragtag punk with occasional touches of keyboard that play like an early blueprint for Hanna's later work in the guise of Julie Ruin. Still, the album's artwork is chock full of intriguing essays, statements of purpose, and pointed rock criticism, such as "why do all the indie boys like women who sing like angels or children?" Ideas, rather than execution, are key here.
AllMusic Review by Chris Nelson