June 21, 2003

Ultimate Fakebook "Before We Spark"

Score another victory for a band breaking free of its "emo" tag and making a wonderful record! I've seen Ultimate Fakebook dismissed as soulless emo dreck and just downright boring. Because of that, I was a little hesitant to check out their music, and when I heard that their new EP, Before We Spark, was a "darker" affair, I just felt the time was right to investigate. I'm glad I did, because I feel like I've been doing a disservice to this wonderful little band.

Though this is touted as being "darker" than their usual fare, it's really not that different from their last album, the underappreciated-yet-really-good Open Up and Say Awesome. Ultimate Fakebook aren't emo, either; they're straight-up Elvis Costello-inspired rock, and I have no problem with that! They've also taken the time to seam the record together into a non-stop, relentless WHOLE, which also serves them well. (They accomplished this by throwing in two electronica-style instrumental passages, ìThe Cobraî and ìSlickís Themeî)

Before We Sparkís strong point, though, would have to be the songs. You really cannot go wrong with Ultimate Fakebookís brand of poppy new-waved-out indie rock, even if they might be labeled by some as ìemo.î Like The Deathray Davies, Iím probably safe in assuming that these guys own not only own the Ryko reissues of Elvis Costelloís discography, but theyíre probably buying up all of the new Rhino reissues as well! Just listen to ìWeíll Go Danciní,î and then try convincing me that they werenít listening to Armed Forces before the recording session! "Record Release Party" is a pretty funny little number recalling part of the bands woes, and it'll put a smile on your face when you listen closer. Perhaps the biggest surprise is hearing "Inside Me, Inside You" turned into an electronica-style dance number. It's a pretty good remix, and it certainly takes their music to another dimension.

Before We Spark should spark a fire under your feet, and if you've never really heard Ultimate Fakebook, now would be a great time to start, because this is just a fun, interesting, and surprisingly strong little release. (For those of you who have those fancy computer-type things, you should pop this CD into your harddrive, as it contains two music videos (for ìWhen I'm With You, I'm OKî and ìInside Me, Inside Youî) as well as two additional remixed versions of ìInside Me, Inside You.î My computer wonít tolerate such things, but Iím pretty sure that these goodies are wonderful little additions to this already great little EP.)

--Joseph Kyle

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