Following the implosion of former record label, Gut (via Institute Recordings) last year, Fightstar decided to form a joint venture with their management team (Search and Destroy Records) and self fund their third album. It was a risk, but much like Charlie Simpson's brave move to steer away from the manufactured pop word of Busted in search for respect and credibility with his new band, it appears to have paid off.
The quartet take a new, experimental step with Be Human whilst still maintaining their post-hardcore roots. You have to credit the four-piece for constantly trying to evolve their sound and clearly not wanting to be pigeon-holed into any particular genre. Co-produced with long term friend, Carl Bown, they drafted in a full 16-piece orchestra and school choir to create a diverse and ultimately huge sounding offering.
Opener, "Calling On All Stations", starts with slow orchestration under Simpson's soft vocals which leads into a powerful, guitar driven number. First single, "The English Way" introduces the choir to magnificent effect. The song is an anthemic sing-a-long with Dan Haigh showing off his talents with some buzzing bass lines. Latest single, "Mercury Summer" presents the band at their most melodic. A light and breezy number as a whole, it's perfectly executed with the duel harmonies of Simpson and Westaway.
"War Machine" is undoubtedly a stand out. The track has a distinctive, cinematic feel to it with the haunting strings and choir vocals to build a crescendo of noise. This could easily be the best track the band has ever written. Heavier moments can be found in tracks like "Colours Bleed To Red", "Chemical Blood" and "Damocles". The latter two combine the growling screams of Simpson with urgent strings whilst still showcasing powerful melodies.
One factor the band is often criticised for is the willingness to wear each member's influences on their sleeves. Arguably, this factor remains on the record. "The Whisperer" has Muse written all over it with its foot-tapping beat and hooky choruses. "Never Change" has a middle section harmony reminiscent of Weezer, while "Give Me The Sky" could easily be mistaken as a tribute for The Cure with its versus. But ultimately, the tracks don't suffer for it. They merely present the diversity of sounds found on this 12-track album.
"Tonight We Burn" is the electronic moment of the record. Preliminary lead by Westaway's soft vocals, it rides on top of the drum beats of Omar Abidi to create a track which proves a huge grower upon repeat listens.
The band chose to end the 46 minutes of running time with the ambient and epic builder "Follow Me Into The Darkness". This is the albums post-rock moment with beautiful violin's preceding a wall of passion with guitars, strings and piano.
As a complete body of work, this record ebbs and flows wonderfully to create a diverse and fulfilling set of tracks. Whilst the influences taken to create these songs are laid bare, it's an ambitious attempt that pays off which will surely allow the band to shake off Simpson's past and stand proud in the British alternative scene.