Music/Popular Culture

TunesDay, pt. 2: Project Phoenix launches

Today S&R presents a second TunesDay, completely free of charge.

The anticipation is finally over: Project Phoenix, the new CD from Fiction 8, is now out. And was it ever worth the wait.

S&R readers may know F8 front man Mike Smith without realizing it: he’s a frequent commenter here (and I’ll let him unmask if he so chooses). So for us, this TunesDay is about family, sorta.

The new disc represents a significant step forward for the band. Most notably, bassist Mardi Salazar has assumed a much greater role in the creative process, writing and singing about half the tracks on the album. Her contributions afford Project Phoenix a rich balance, both tonally and lyrically. Mike’s angst and cynicism are still evident, but are tempered by Mardi’s softer, more haunting approach.

Or maybe “softer” isn’t quite the right word here. F8’s music is unambiguously darkpop – industrial with goth overtones, but essentially pop in structure. Smith’s songs have always hit like a boot to the gut. Sometimes the rage is palpable, other times muted beneath layers of self-doubt, but even his most thoughtful moments – and perhaps especially his most thoughtful moments – leave some part of you hurting.

Mardi’s voice is more conversational, however. It packs plenty of punch – it’s just that the fist is enveloped in a silk glove.

Apologies if I sound like a really bad music critic here (and I am a bad music critic – I don’t do this for a living for a very good reason). I’m not good describing bands, I fear. The good news is that you can sample several of the tunes at their site and listen to some full tracks at their MySpace page.

My favorite track? “Hegemony,” the cut that closes the album (the decision to sequence it here, right after the desperation of “In Orbit,” was nothing short of inspired). In an upcoming edition of WordsDay I’ll explain more about my affection for this particular track.

Meanwhile, Project Phoenix comes with the coveted S&R Seal of Approval. I encourage you to give it a listen.

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