Fiction The Big Other Review

Released 2013.  

BBC Review

New music worth hearing from this articulate and intelligent London outfit.

Lou Thomas 2013

The Big Other’s final song is dedicated to pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing.  

Amongst his many achievements, Turing was a code-breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, and can justifiably be deemed a hero.

Tragically, he was prosecuted for his homosexuality in 1952 and chose chemical castration as an alternative to prison. He killed himself two years later, a fortnight before his 42nd birthday.

This awful, but fascinating, true story indicates Fiction’s keen eye for an interesting story and overt intelligence. The Apple, the tune produced in Turing’s honour, is math-pop excellence.

Vocalist Mike Barrett deserves plaudits for getting the words, “The algorithm was nothing special,” into proceedings. Subtle, elliptical and ambiguous, it rounds off a great album.

While this debut record from the London-based quartet does contain its share of hooks, The Big Other is rarely an obvious beast. Dave Miller’s wandering basslines are a funky constant, but otherwise it’s tough to say that Fiction have a ‘sound’.

As with so many contemporary bands worth bothering with, XTC, Talking Heads and early Battles seem particularly strong rhythmic influences. But the surfeit of shimmering guitars and artsy leanings make Fiction natural peers of Foals and Yeasayer.

Single Museum is a particular standout. James Howard and Nick Barrett contribute flirtatious guitar riffs, while the track's sleek vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a primetime Duran Duran hit.

Big Things, first released in 2010, is the most recognisable track because of its appearance on a car advert. It’s a brilliant, Afrobeat-flavoured chant-along and sounds like a boisterous Vampire Weekend.

Careful is another enigmatic yet wonky number. With Wild Beasts-recalling falsetto vocals over a playful clang akin to Echo & The Bunnymen’s Never Stop, it’s one of The Big Other’s best tracks.

It’s a shame the Specials-like post-punk malevolence of Zebra Crossing wasn’t included here in place of the slightly forgettable Be Clear, but otherwise, it’s solid work throughout.

Ash Workman and James Ford keep the production consistently intriguing, and repeated listens reveal fresh nuances and ideas. This is new music worth hearing.

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