Immaculate Machine are from British Columbia. The Organ are also from British Columbia. There, however, the comparison ends: the former act lacks the latter’s edge in all departments. In fact, they seem to lack a few things, instrumental competence notwithstanding.
To say that the Machine bear a resemblance to BC’s The New Pornographers is something of an understatement. You see, Kathryn Calder is a member of both, but it’s more than just her recognisable, soaring voice that means Fables sounds like the cuttings from The Pornographers’ studio floor.
A harsh assessment? Oh, absolutely, but this album is just so nice that it’s practically asking for it; the kind of album a parent would hear through their child’s door and consider getting them something a little edgier, like Robbie Williams or that Kaiser Chief chap.
While the Immaculate Machine’s musical cohorts occasionally stumble upon a crunching riff, spine-tingling hook or provocative lyrical twist, Fables doesn’t appear to even try. Sure, that echoing organ is pleasant, and I quite dig that harmony, but this is consistently beige stuff, and they really ought to know better by their third album.
Opening track Jarhead isn’t too shabby, but sounds just a bit too much like a protest song sung by Enya to be deserving of more decisive praise. Dear Confessor, too, suffers from its inability to stray too far from the middle of the road (the road to mediocrity, as it happens).
I take no pleasure in slating the Immaculate Machine, I really do. I even had a pang of guilt during that last paragraph. At the same time, I can’t deny that Fables is too inoffensive for its own good.
For instance, as much as Roman Statues and Old Flame trade on pleasantry and manners, Nothing Ever Happens has been done to death by better bands. Ouch. I’d better say something nice… At just 36 minutes, it’s a bearable length. There.
Perhaps in me they’re just pitching to the wrong crowd. I mean, I have one New Pornographers album in my collection and, quite frankly, that’s sufficient, thankyouverymuch. Got a Beautiful South fan in your life? Get it for them instead. You’ll probably go to Heaven for it.