The Big Other
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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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Top Customer Reviews
something good going on here. It's crisp; it's tight; it's shiny but
perhaps more than all these qualities it's intelligent. 'The Big Other'
has its heart in the eighties and one senses that singer Mike Barrett
might have made himself as at home in that decade as we find him here.
He has a good voice with a nicely managed vibrato and a limber falsetto
which he pulls out of the bag for a good airing from time to time (it's
particularly effective on second track 'Careful') and although I have
not as yet seen any photographs one can imagine that he also sports a
haircut with serious intentions! It's not just about Mr Barrett however;
this is an altogether very fine ensemble; the kind of musicians who have
clearly listened to each other's ideas and come up with a democratic but
distinctive sound. There are eleven songs in the set, all of which are
marked by an easy facility with both melody and rhythm. It's clever pop.
Standout numbers include opening track 'Parting Gesture' a memorable tune
blessed with some nicely angelic backing vocals and delightfully jangly
guitars; 'Big Things', channeling Talking Heads in an affectionate way
and the thoroughly splendid final song 'The Apple', a tribute to Alan Turing,
one of the founding fathers of computer science who tragically killed himself
in 1954, largely as the result of being persecuted for his homosexuality.
So - music with some serious intentions but also saturated with the kind of
energy and enthusiasm which has the power to make us wiggle as well as think!
I wish them well.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Enjoyed all tracks as it flows well but if I had to pick out one song I would go with the first two tracks "The Apple" and "Careful". There is a live video for "The Apple" that someone filmed on Youtube you might want to check out as well.
Great album for a spring mood...