Alternate Endings proves that Fightstar are far from transitory.
Al Fox 2008-08-06
The release of Alternate Endings, a B-sides collection from Middle England post-hardcore bastions, Fightstar, raises a question: just how antsy do staunch devotees get during that 'tween-album limbo period? Evidently, enough to warrant this provisional record, just to keep the keenest fans ticking over until the next album proper.
But, at the same time, the fact that a band so prematurely dismissed have clocked up enough material to put out an assemblage of this sort underlines that Fightstar are not a band to be miscalculated. And its insular fan-focused characteristic suggests they're certainly not putting this out to make a quick buck, as is so often the nature of such anthologies.
The sequential development on display across Alternate Endings, while not laid out chronologically, makes for a noteworthy aspect to consider - the earlier recordings see Charlie Simpson ostensibly knocking on 60-a-day to achieve a strained, grizzled croakiness (instant credibility, see?) while the later material carries a far more organic quality.
And though the more recent material - Dark Star or Hold Out Your Arms, for instance, both B-sides from the One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours epoch - may not be a return to choirboy trillings, they're a significant step on from the primary amalgam of desperate emo yearnings and noise for noise's sake. Deep amongst the echelons of Fightstar lurks some striking musicianship, evidently only visible when the bravado is left at the door. A taste of things to come, one might hope?
And yet, ready to subvert this theory with evil glee comes Where's The Money, Lebowski?, the lone specimen of brand new material on the compilation. Stale, strident and contrived beyond principle, it's a rapid excursion straight back to square one. That said, it's at least equipped with the element of surprise.
Acoustic offerings lifted from Colin Murray's Radio 1 sessions provide similarly diverse extremes of quality. Where a stripped-bare interpretation of Floods heightens the song dramatically and pays testament to the band's broad aptitude, a lumpen, oafish take on Waitin' For A Superman by the Flaming Lips quickly undoes any display of artistry expressed during the aforementioned track.
Still, Alternate Endings proves, if nothing else, that Fightstar are far from transitory. Somehow, they have forged three solid years' worth of a respectable career, escaping laughable boy band ties and gaining something in the way of impossible acceptance, something which Alternate Endings cements deservingly. But, as a record in itself, the customary hotch-potch omnibus aspect confirms this not so much as an album, but as an article of merchandise strictly for the most active of fans.