14 January 2005. A date that will forever be etched on my heart. A day for rejoicing and much merriment. The day the crap music died. 14 January 2005. The day Busted split up.
Fightstar will always have special kudos round these parts for catalysing this glorious event. You see Charlie Simpson – the one who used to wear Tool and Aereogramme T-shirts, kind of like a public cry for help – decided that he’d had enough of whoring himself by playing “music” he wouldn’t force his worst enemy to listen to, and instead chose a future of guitaring with what had been his moonlighting hobby.
Wise move, haircut boy. They Liked You Better When You Were Dead is such a good debut EP that the fact Monsieur Simpson used to be part of a heinous crime against humanity’s ears is an irrelevant piece of history that will soon be consigned to pub quizzes and trivia board games.
Quite simply, Fightstar rock. Yes, really. Palahniuk’s Laughter and Speak Up feature impressive tides of metallic guitar riffs, stop-start dynamics and memorable choruses. If you didn’t know better you might think that Lost Like Tears In Rain was penned by Welsh emo princes Funeral For A Friend, while Amethyst brings Muse-like qualities to the table in creating a thoughtful slab of guitar-driven rock.
A crappy pop moment fleetingly threatens at the start of Mono but in truth this track is the centrepiece of the EP – a brooding slowie that builds into a swathing crescendo of weighty power chords and will have you reaching for the repeat button as soon as it’s over.
And on top of all that, They Liked You Better… has various knowing but likeable references. Palahniuk’s Laughter is named after the Fight Club author and a copy of one of his books can just about be picked out on the CD cover. Meanwhile, the fact that Mono is titled in honour of the cult Japanese band is apt because, just as Mono’s last album was produced by Steve Albini, so Fightstar reach the heights of the acclaimed noise terrorist’s band Shellac in their more abrasive moments.
Truth be told, I always thought it would be the Year 3000 before I ended up praising Charlie Simpson in print. But, if anyone dismisses Fightstar based on his past connections then they’re the loser. And if you’re a Busted fan who’s yet to discover the light of proper rock music, come hither – salvation is nigh.