About six months ago, I reviewed the Fake Problems EP Spurs and Spokes/Bull Matador. The eight song debut was a deliciously fun, frenetic country punk entry in which the boys in the band tipped their hats to Florida mega-punk stars Against Me.
How Far Our Bodies Go, the bands new full length, demonstrates the nice guys in Fake Problems are one step closer to reaching icon status. The sound remains pretty much the same, although the full length allows the band to explore some eighties indie rock, touching on Hootenanny era Replacements on some songs, and Soul Asylum on others. The tribute to alternative rock mixes nicely with the hard driving rhythms. All those days Fake Problems have spent on the road has lead to very mature compositional skill, creating songs that swing variably in between rock, country, and country punk.
There are moments when vocalist Chris Farren reaches deep into in his soul and pulls out tracks reminiscent of a young Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Paul Westerberg and of course, Tom Gabel. Casey Lee and Farren thrash their axes appropriately, and the rhythm section of Derek Perry on bass and Sean Stevenson on drums adds joyful cacophony, grinding and driving the entire band. Farren does a fine job, exuberantly leading the band with his conversational and occasionally impressionistic lyrics, which he sings with equal dashed of wry irony and direct sarcasm.
The only problem here is Fake Problems occasionally lapses into stealing huge chunks of originality from Against Me. They probably just got a little lazy in the studio, rushing through the lesser songs – no big deal. How Far Our Bodies Go achieves a charming, life affirming presence, shucking the intense politics preached by many punk progenitors. The infectious fun of their stage shows translates well here as Farren and his mates eschew the trappings of heavily commercialized punk claptrap.
How Far Our Bodies Go will caress you with its heart and soul and abuse you with its trashy roots-punk. It will throw you to your feet for some self-absorbed slam dancing and have you contemplating Farren’s deep metaphors. But mostly, it will hit you like a melodic hangover – a little worse for wear, but very glad for the experience.