General Fiasco Buildings Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A perfunctory debut album, but surely destined for the indie landfill.

Mike Diver 2010

General Fiasco fall into a category of rock bands that’s grown broader and deeper ever since the likes of Snow Patrol and Coldplay nailed their formulas and became radio mainstays: the bit-part players in the grander commercial indie picture. Theirs is a sound that’s immediately comparable to dozens – sorry, hundreds – of similar outfits, tidy choruses bookended by perfunctory verses and lyrics that paint a scene of contemporary living that’s recognisable by the masses. It’s easy, effortless fare, as digestible as a sensibly balanced meal and just as forgettable. It’s on the radio for three minutes, you like it, but never seek out further information. Because… Sorry, what were we discussing?

Hailing from Northern Ireland, the trio have been on introducing radars for some time – on this evidence, though, it’s hard to determine exactly why given the abject absence of originality. Buildings features three of four singles to date, and in perfect first-record fashion serves as a ‘til-this-point summary of its makers’ achievements. Of these songs already released as standalone entities, We Are the Foolish is the most immediately grabbing – appropriately, it opens proceedings here. There’s an air of The Enemy in anthem mode about it, but also backing yelps reminiscent of rather more critically approved acts such as The Kissaway Trail and Mew.

Much of Buildings does follow a straighter line well trodden, though, and its meat-and-potatoes make-up, while accomplished enough, simply doesn’t showcase a band deserving of highlighting above so many other domestic acts scrambling for audiences at the same level. Echoes of The View bounce around numbers like Ever So Shy and I’m Not Made of Eyes – perhaps it’s something to do with vocalist Owen Strathern’s pitch, but despite obvious accent differences there’s definitely a little Kyle Falconer about him. The thick strings of Sinking Ships contrast awkwardly with the man’s words – it’s a recipe that’d suit a softer-voiced lead singer, but General Fiasco are clearly more comfortable with comparatively raucous compositions.

Which, relatively speaking, aren’t actually that raucous at all. A collection of mostly mid-paced songs that leave no impression whatsoever, Buildings is the very epitome of a term coined some time ago, but far from being revealed as redundant: landfill indie. And at the rate these acts continue to emerge, deliver only mediocrity and subsequently slip from view, we’re going to have to think about exporting our rocking wastrels sooner than later.

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