Fyfe is Paul Dixon’s latest manifestation. It could be suggested that Dixon – who has also gone under the name of David Lyre and played in numerous bands in the past – has something of a personality issue, as he repeatedly reinvents himself under new monikers and attempts to show us all that he is something new.
However, it appears that under Fyfe he has finally found a skin that he can finally feel comfortable in and really grow within. The sound is more streamlined, the image more direct and the lyrics are confessional and allow a small window into how Dixon has come through the last few years as a young artist.
Opener Conversations immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album. The tight, measured beats interweaving in geometric patterns whilst Dixon interestingly ponders on the line “All this time I didn’t know just who I’m meant to be”. It is a statement of Fyfe’s acceptance of the past and messing things up, but also of how he has come out the other end and lived to tell the tale. Even more interesting is the line “Years and years I’ve lived through things that don’t mean much to me” and his plea to make things work out this time. It is confessional and the way it is wrapped up in tantalising heavy pop beats and melodies makes it ever more intriguing, as it is one of the only points on the album where we get some real insight into what makes Dixon tick.
One of the only other points where this happens is on Polythene Love, a track that draws the listener in with its graceful electronic sounds and is a confident statement of how Dixon has grown as a musician as the song ends on the line “don’t think I’m a fool”. He proves that he is someone who firmly knows what he is doing with his music and how he has progressed as a musician.
For the majority of the rest of the songs, Dixon holds you at an arm’s length and is more tightly controlled on what he allows you to see. However, there are still some real moments where the production and hooks that make up Control work particularly well. Take the brilliantly arranged For You, with its freakishly catchy chorus and the way it suddenly launches into a powerful saxophone solo halfway through, which gives the track an unpredictable, and utterly surprising romanticism. Yet it is St Tropez that pelts the listener with the most unpredictable set up. Beginning with a sparse, thin texture of beats, horns are suddenly brought into the equation. It sounds odd, but it works and helps build an exotic tension within the music.
Leading single Solace is one of the crowning tracks on Control, with its colourful jangling riffs and sparse electronic beats. In the accompanying video, Dixon’s face is covered in thick paint that is slowly unmasked, before giving momentary glimpses of his real face. It still feels as though we are yet to see the real Dixon, and whether we ever will do. On some level, Control is an album that works as an act of control over Fyfe’s identity. It feels as though it is a work in which Dixon is trying to take control of his ideas and streamline them into one coherent work. Every aspect of the music is tightly packed, controlled and calculated to have a particular effect. Dixon has a meticulous eye for detail and it pays off, at least to a certain extent, giving the album a very precise sound, but it comes at the expense of concealing a rawer side of Dixon. At times feels too regimented, leaving you wishing that he would just relax a little and drop the self-consciousness that gets carried along through the tracks.