The Fibs drop new LP
Preston Newberry and his Fort Worth, Texas headquartered outfit The Fibs first hit the scene with 2014’s Hex Hex Hex, a fine first release that now, in light of this follow up, sounds more like a dry run for a brighter future. You’ll be forced to acknowledge, by the end of this collection, The Fibs are blessed with rare songwriting unity – there are a couple of key styles the band pivots between for the entirety of this release and they sound equally confident with each. There’s a plethora of post production influence shaping the sound of these songs to a greater or lesser degree, but this aspect of the band’s presentation never overstates its presence and, instead, invests the songwriting with a level of gravity it may have otherwise lacked.
The Fibs begins in a tortured fashion. We’re ushered into a dark musical world with the elongated and distorted wailing filling the opening seconds of “Waiting for a Train” before the song begins in earnest and transports us elsewhere. There are a number of strengths powering the album’s first number, but the primary element that stands out to me is the unbreakable rhythm section thrust from bassist Jen Rux and drummer Robby Rux. They are, likewise, the production team behind both The Fibs’ debut and this new release, but you’d never tell just listening to the album.
There’s a much different approach characterizing the album’s second and third songs “Cut Hands” and “Tyranny”. The former places less priority on a clean vocal mix than we heard with the album’s opener thanks to its inherently more raucous structure and it reminds me, particularly with Newberry’s layered vocal drone, of English acid rockers Hawkwind more than it does modern indie darkwave, but there’s no retro feel dulling its impact. It feels and sounds thoroughly modern in every respect. Jen Rux’s bass is particularly important in the song’s second half. The same wide open vibe defining “Cut Hands” returns for the album’s next song “Tyranny”, but The Fibs dial up the urgency a little with a more forceful tempo than we experienced with the preceding tune.
Two of the album’s best guitar-centric tunes come with “Lexicon” and the later cut “Simply Divine”. The first song announces itself as a six string heavy foray from the first with Joel Raif’s brittle chords giving “Lexicon” a tense flavor lacking from the preceding and later songs alike. The rhythm section stands out here as well without ever diverting attention away from the top line instruments and Newberry’s vocals resonate with listeners thanks to their consistently emotional tenor. It isn’t a technically pleasing voice, but ideal for this material and Newberry’s imagery alike.
“Simply Divine” begins life cast in one direction before transforming into something a little more predictable. It’s only predictable because of the preceding songs, however, and never points to a lack of songwriting creativity. The song, when it reaches full swing, is actually one of the more polished current examples of where the band’s songwriting is headed from this point forward thanks to the memorable marriage of its indie guitar work and assertive rhythm section undertow pulling everything into a deeper definable groove. The album’s closer “Morning Train Slide” has a consistent pulse anchoring it throughout, but likewise the vocals have an appropriately sleepy quality closing The Fibs on a distinctly muted, even downhearted, note. Nonetheless, this is a great album with some songs greater than others, but no filler present.