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David Fagin

what's a record label, 2007

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It's no secret that music tends to draw a heavy share of sycophants and hangers-on to a trend. Once a British tabloid coined the term "Britpop," everyone suddenly got into Oasis and Blur, and every other day a group of four pale guys in skinny ties and sneers would show up with a batch of songs, their eyes set on the Gallagher's stardom. Anyone who can name more than one of these acts deserves a medal.

Emo music now has its share of clingers, groups who fancy themselves the next Death Cab For Cutie or Coldplay, and in a few years these people will cease to be relevant as well. Many of these artists tend to lean toward a stripped-down sound, but some opt for either a power-pop bent or an atmospheric earnestness that tries to recall U2 but sounds like a more calculated Coldplay.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

David Fagin goes for all of these on his first solo album, and one needn't bother listening to it.

New York-area fans might know The Rosenbergs, a power pop band more famous for its Napster dealings than its music. Fagin went on to play with Robert Fripp in 2000 and has shared a stage with No Doubt, STP and the Strokes, but as a solo artist he fails to find a unique voice.

Part of the problem is that nothing here stands out. Sure, it sounds great, multi-layered guitars and reverb-laden vocals everywhere underneath acoustic meanderings and soul-searching lyrics. "At a bus stop / in the courtyard / round the corner / waiting for a change / it's like a tidal wave / when you gonna come in from the rain?" Fagin asks on "Strange," but the listener couldn't care less.

Look, I don't mean to be pessimistic here. Fagin cares about his music and knows his way around a melody, and the CD sounds great. There is nothing offensive about it. There also is nothing fantastic about it, no hook, no reason you should pick this up instead of Coldplay or the Gin Blossoms, two artists heavily influencing this disc.

The Rosenbergs had their place, a slightly quirky take on sunny power pop, but the battle with Napster must have left Fagin scarred, because he comes off here as slightly dour and brooding. As if the emo world doesn't have enough of that. Fagin fails to find a unique singing voice, leaving it to the music to carry through, and unfortunately this sort of thing has been done over and over.

There are moments of beauty, as on the 311-esque "Dust" (think 311 doing "Amber" as a reference point) and the synth/acoustic combo "Neverland," which attains a latent grandeur without giving in to the syrup it easily could have become. But "Hindsight" is an obvious Coldplay ripoff (homage?) and "Fade Out" goes for a mellow Jimmy Eat World vibe and just doesn't pan out.

Fagin could apply his melodic gift and easily create some great music, but he opts here to follow instead of lead, and his first solo disc suffers because of it. This is something power pop and emo fans might put on once a year in the car, but for most others the only emotion they'll feel is ambivalence, since Fagin could have done so much better.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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