Thursday, June 20 2024

Orange County’s Fake Figures released their first music since 2019s ‘We Are The Dead’, in August of 2023. ‘Miasmatic’, represented a seismic shift, in both attitude and craft. It was a blitzkrieg, driving, monolith of pounding beats, electrifying riffs and above all else featured the debut of Steve Ludwig on vocals. This, in my opinion, has elevated the band to new heights, and opened up far more new possibilities. 

Steve’s vocal dexterity and crystal-clear timbre is effortlessly comfortable in both head and chest voice. He’s a gem of a vocalist akin to Corey Taylor, with elements of Miles Kennedy. If that hasn’t got your attention, then it should; because that right there is metal / rock royalty. Short of mentioning Mike Patton, you have 2 of the 3 greatest living modern metal / rock vocalists. OK, you could throw in David Draiman to that and sub-out Miles Kennedy as he’s more ‘rock’, but you’re splitting hairs and this my review so, bite me. I digress, as I often do, but it was unexpected, but very welcome, like the twenty you find in your jean pocket, when you’ve not worn them for months. 

Allow me to roll back the clock to 2019. You remember then? The world wasn’t fucked and everyone was blissfully ignorant and optimistic and our only worry / source of amusement was the cartoon character occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Fake Figures released the fantastic, ‘Your Distant’; a song that starts like ‘Good times, Bad Times’, and veers into Polka infused Homme-esque territory. Catchy. Musically spot on. Vocally somewhere between Downset and the Deftones. And that, for me, was the fundamental problem; it’s a great song, but the vocals didn’t carry it well enough.

‘Polymer’ does not suffer the same fate. It’s a different animal. A different sound. A different Fake Figures; heavier, tighter and more bullish than ever before. The opening guitar fragment immediately reminds me of ‘Psychosocial’; it’s twisted and has an almost dissonant relationship with the preceding staccato octaves prior to the verse. It’s a seething, pulverising start which allows for some respite in the verses.

Again, good use of staccato and chord modulation gives a jutting feel from the guitars and bass, whilst the drums continue their relentless snare attack on the dominant beats, interlaced with almost double time hi-hats (honestly thought Matt Horwitz was playing 32nd beats at one point!). It should feel breathless, but the use of cleaner picked lead (almost lyrical in its phrasing) lower in the mix reigns everything in and gives it a balance.  

The vocal melody shows great melodic contour from flat-falling over the first half of the verse to flat-rising over the latter half, which is beautifully harmonised. It’s a great progression that moves fluidly into the pre-chorus effortlessly.

The guitars are split between chords and harmonising octaves over the pre-chorus, which build the tension providing dissonant elements. This changes the emotional perception and direction of the song as it becomes almost fraught and desperate; “When will I realise?” The lyric acts as a tonic as we enter the chorus.

This is when the song explodes. Resolves. Delivers. Cadence! A dense multi-verse of harmonies, choral backing vocals, picked guitar progressions, silky octave runs and of course, a vocal melody you could hang your hat on. It’s a couple of clicks above brilliant; effortlessly catchy, sing along, whatever you want to call it. It’s majestic.

Structurally, then we veer off; after the original twisted intro lick is reprised a bridge section with an Alice in Chain flavour becomes the pre-verse and pulls the rug from under what we anticipate, to what Fake Figures, choose to deliver. This song is testament to their collective craft as songwriters. It’s very clever and as you would expect given their combined resumé, very nuanced.  

The mid-section offers more narrative progression and also a lead break with a Jerry Cantrell air. Great phrasing. Great tone and carries the piece, via another clever bridge section to a double chorus, the first bar of which is just vocal and picked guitar before everything kicks in. It’s a good device which ups the ante in terms of impact.

Production wise, this is absolutely flawless. There is nothing and I mean nothing that is out of place, peaking, dead notes; it’s clean. It’s crystal clear.  It’s a thing of beauty. The song itself is incredible. It’s 5 musicians at the top of their game delivering something they absolutely believe in. I’ll go further; if someone had sent me this and said, “Slipknots new material, take a listen,” I’d have immediately been sceptical, but ultimately would have believed it after a few listens. 

What can be gleaned from that? I’m either beyond gullible, or this is an incredible, catchy, dense, arse-kicking song that should rightly be revered.

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Fake Figures hit all the right notes in this huge, anthemic, masterclass. A catchy, dense and arse-kicking song!


Song Quality
Vocal Performance


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About Author

Gareth Johnston

Gareth Johnston is a Lancashire based musician and producer who studied music at MMU. He is a former reviewer for 'Glitzine' and when not writing for 'The Indie Grid' can be found restoring old furniture whilst listening to obscure alt-rock. He has too many favourite bands to pick one and insists it's easier to pick a favourite child.

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