When I think of indie-pop in the states, I think of a few key labels: Matinee, Magic Marker, Happy Happy Birthday to Me and TwentySeven. These four make up some of the best US released pop music I know. It’s on the second, Magic Marker, that The Faintest Ideas now call home. The Faintest Ideas hail from Sweden, a country I adore and admire, but their name and sound signifies something completely different, removing much of the Swedish pop influence for those a bit more British, circa C86.
“You’re Beautiful” may just be the best punk rock love song every written, and it comes in at barely over one minute in length. It’s a common feature on What Goes Up Must Calm Down—no song tops three minutes. “Capitol Between Brackets” has a snare-heavy percussion that hints of Boyracer while the lyrics and vocals retain the British influence. “Everything Is Black” alters the tone of the album, leading with sad vocals rather than the more upbeat ones generally found throughout the What Goes Up.
While “You’re Beautiful” takes the title of best punk rock love song, “Dexter’s Got A Sinister Heart” follows it at number two. It combines aspects of punk with pop like many other songs on the album, but the excellent placing of multiple vocals are what make the song shine. “Gun Totin Hooligans” brings in a new influence—Morrissey and The Smiths. While always an underlying presence (How can you be influenced by C86 and not also list The Smiths as a major influence?), it is most apparent here.
“Decapitated” is another powerful song, taking The Fainest Ideas’ ability to have hard, driving background music while contrasting it with vocals that make the music sound slower than it really is. The album closer, “Lose the Downside”, removes much of the driving sound to literally become the slowest song on the album, providing the perfect, calming closer for an album both rowdy and exciting.
Overall, I am most surprised by the fact that The Faintest Ideas are from Sweden and not Britain, which is seconded by the surprise that the album wasn’t released in the late 80s London rather than Portland in December 2006. Still, it’s exciting to discover bands like this—they have the ability to make you want to get up off your ass and jump the hell around.
This review was originally published December 21, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.
Magic Marker Records [CD, 2006]
1. You’re Beautiful
2. Dear Leibniz
3. Capitol Between Brackets
4. All Stars
5. Dexter’s Got A Sinister Heart
6. Misses Misses
7. Everything Is Black
8. Gun Totin Hooligans
9. Nosebleeders On The Track
10. Try Too Hard
11. I Hear It But I Don’t Like It
12. Mountains Of Tics
13. Nothing Will Ever Happen
15. Lose The Downside