Released: November 2014
In Real Life is the latest offering from South-West London’s Fiction. Following the release of their debut LP The Big Other, Fiction’s latest EP opens with the dreamy lead single Lonely Planet. The tempo is slow, the vocals quivering and wistful and it seems the aim is to ease the listener into the record, somewhat like a cat nudging and purring in your ear of a Sunday morning until there’s no other option but to wake up. Kind of cute, but ultimately a bit annoying. The track shows promise during its latter half with spiralling guitars building over each other, although nothing really comes of it and the fade out, just as things are getting going, is disappointing.
If there is one defining feature of the EP it has to be the wistful quality to the vocals. It’s a feature that is present across the board but News and Weather particularly stands out. It’s a strange combination really; the jingly jangly guitars smack of an indie pop soundtrack to a summer holiday in outer space, the synth belies an 80s influence and yet the vocals here are reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand’s frontman Alex Kapranos’ brand of indie-arty pop. Sadly, unlike Kapranos, the vocals are lacking in any kind of punch to balance out the languidness.
The highlight of the EP is probably the fourth track, Naming of Things. Whilst it is a perfectly listenable track – decent rhythm section, catchy melody – there’s just something about it which seems all too familiar. The forgettable lyrics and happy-go-lucky feel of the song make it sound like filler from the likes of MGMT’s debut, Oracular Spectacular. Unlike the first half of the EP, the listenable thread is continued in the closer Morning Song. With In Real Life serving as something of a bridge between Fiction’s debut and second LPs, this closing track to an average EP is, hopefully, indicative of what is to come.
This is not an entirely terrible effort from Fiction, but it is somewhat frustrating. The dreamlike quality of the song writing doesn’t quite come off, especially in the first half of the EP which lets it down. There is an inescapable feeling that this release would have gone down a lot better in the synthy-indie pop fever of six or seven years ago. The harking back to influences past, the use of the synth and the embracing of an indie façade, whether that be modelled on Franz Ferdinand or MGMT (or both), all of which could have worked brilliantly, fall short of the mark. If anything In Real Life just seems a little stale. Not entirely terrible, but certainly not anything fresh and exciting either. As the lyric from News and Weather goes ‘I tried to care more, I tried to care less…’ That just about sums it up.