Fable & The World Flat’s 2009 album, Ladies and Gentlemen, is rife with sleek production, undeniable pop hooks and danceable overtones. The band, which features former members of early-2000s emo outfit Meteah Strike and current pieces of Fresh Cut Collective, has kept quiet since that tremendous release, having drummer Michael Stewart depart from the band (resulting from a move to Boston) along the way.
Turns out, Fable was spending its time away from the stage in the recording studio, laboring diligently on enough material to fill two albums that will be released between now and June. The first of these releases, The Great Attractor, seems to adhere to the framework of the band’s lauded last offering, while showing glimmers of a band that doesn’t take itself as seriously as its intricate song construction to this point might suggest.
The definitive kick drum thuds of opener “Hunchback of Awesome-Fest” serves as a two-minute introduction, as singer Steven Look’s effect-smeared vocals are paired with a warbling harmony of a female singer (who also appears in two other songs). Giving way to Attractor’s best and most radio-ready song, “Typical Talk,” the album comes to attention quickly. In “Typical Talk” and a number of other tracks (“Sea-Tac Revisited” and “Fires & Sluts” among them) sharp synth notes cut through otherwise peppy indie rock songs, conjuring a tranquilized Minus The Bear at times.
Fable has fun with some of its “songs” – actually interludes that clash with the rest of the polished, accessible work – including slow-mo satire “Fable & the Chicks” and outgoing voicemail joke track “Fable & the Dicks” that don’t really add much to bolster the other 11 tracks. Yet, jokes aside, the band and its album are at their best given room to expound its electronic loops to fill whatever nooks and crannies not occupied by Look’s distinct listless and monotone croon and altogether great lyrics. This is put on display in “Soliloquy in Symphony” and the downright beautiful violin-including album-ending duet “Between the Technologies.”
In the end, The Great Attractor doesn’t measure up to Ladies and Gentlemen, but what does? Instead of seeking to echo its near-perfect release, Fable & The World Flat broadened its sound, tried new things and attempted to mix in a couple laughs for good measure. It was well worth the four-year wait, especially knowing it will only be a matter of months, not years, until we’re treated to another new album.
Fable & The World Flat members Steven Look and Matthew Gorski are hosting a listening party for The Great Attractor at Blackbird Bar (3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 20. The free event will also include complimentary digital download cards of the album before it’s posted on Fable & The World Flat’s Bandcamp page next week.