Heroes Of The Mexican Independence Movement drummer Chris Norrison has done what relatively few drummers manage to do, stepping out from behind the sticks with his own band, Foolish Atoms, to record his own album. With the recent release of A Crack In The Glass Eye and a reissue of the debut, Songs for Insomniacs and Narcoleptics, Norrison has done it twice, flying in the face of convention.
Starting out with the shimmering acoustic guitar of Bend The Arm Till It Breaks, the Foolish Atoms follow up album kicks off with resoundingly poignant drum crashes, some great distorted electric and raggedy vocals that comes as a welcome part of the song, combining in with more harmonic backing. The influences of PJ Harvey, REM, Velvet Underground and Galaxie 500 come through instantly in the track and set the tone and pace of
How To Remain Solid Under A Sky Of Gas opens out with a very cool mix of tripping drum flicks and light electric riffs before a sturdy bass line props it all up for Norrison’s sunshine vocals to limbo out. It’s a summery kind of track that’s got to get airtime come June and July next year. The lyrics are genius, the distorted guitar undercurrents class and the vocals Brit-pop excellence.
The Swelling Truth uses a John Cale inspired drone throughout that warms the barnacles of you skull as soon as is buzzes in. It’s a slow down, reverb and tremolo-laced guitar track with deep vocals, which highlights Norrison’s ability to match his tone to the style of the song. It’s followed by Weapons For The Dance and two seconds in you get a feeling that it might be just that as your foot starts to bounce to the beat of the killer drum beats. The Chris is a beast, livening up the album just at the right time, although it does finish with a nice high note guitar riff.
As well as having a brilliantly witty title, Join Cults Now is a slacker alt-rock track with shades of Beck, leading into the stripped and dour Temporary Acolytes, which rains on the parade a little. Things return to the more impressive side of the fence with dark and deeply distorted guitar beginnings of Spectral Co-ordinates, but it sort of breaks apart before it can get into it’s stride with too raggedy a riff in the chorus and vocals that don’t quite hit their potential.
Son is a high paced snippet of mentalness, making it very likeable, but it’s a little too flat at times to make it count well, while Kicking The Engine is a struggling acoustic with poetic lyrics. Trapping John is a long plod that feels like it could have been cut for further development and a bit more kick later on down the road and Slow Motion is a good description of the latter half of A Crack In The Glass Eye with the track doing little to shake the tree once again.
It’s a vaguely similar story with Fiction Master, but the track builds to more of a frenzy to give a bit of a short, sharp hook. Sadly Universal Fielder doesn’t exactly finish the album on a high, leaving you missing the first 7 tracks or so.
While Foolish Atoms’ A Crack In The Glass Eye may not be the most jumpin’ album release of the year, although it has it’s moments on Weapons For The Dance, it’s definitely one of the most interesting in parts. However, the less developed second half brings down our overall review score to a 3.4, but with a little less fat and a bit more time in the studio to hone of few of the closer tracks the album could have been class from start to end.
Foolish Atoms’ A Crack In The Glass Eye review: 3.4/5