Finding Fiction - Idaho By The Sea
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
For a music critic, "indie rock" is a miserable genre... to describe. It's painfully vague, over-encompassing and always applicable, but if I were to try - just try - to wrap up a primitive definition of indie rock, I'd probably present Finding Fiction. They're from New York City. Their album is called Idaho By The Sea, and it's playing in the background at your favorite vegan pastry spot.
So even though you don't know who is warbling through those shop speakers, don't get too down on yourself. Finding Fiction don't do much to separate their sound from the skeletal structure of any parentally safe indie rock band. The melodies for the whole of Idaho are derivative and basic. Finding Fiction is making pop music, yet the hooks are washing over with minimal lasting value. When the band coughs, everything checks out all right, but their sequencing is safe, like fingersnaps or a reflective vest. The vocalist for Finding Fiction has a throaty drawl that exercises very little wow, making his general upkeep sound just about as ordinary as possible. There's no more than a few instrumental aspects about this album that can barely be considered only children. But we can't all be Animal Collective. For most of us, we can just hope to be mildly stimulating.
And that's exactly where Finding Fiction exists in the context of their genre: mildly stimulating. At its worse, it's dull with cautious tempers on takes like "Big Sky Blue" and "Subway Train". At its best, it's casually fun, like drinking dice games or Applebees. Album opener "I'll Buy" is a perky tune with lively percussion and a clincher chorus line: Traded water in for wine, and I'll buy, I'll buy/Before you bother with goodbye. "Killing Time" is the album's shiniest gem; guitars gingerly powder and layer while the singer makes his point about how "we're all just killing time." The chunky vocals on "Imitating You Imitating Me" match well with the song's fluid switches of plucking and strumming. When the band embraces their approachable, neighborly charm with acoustic call-to-arms, it pays off with "Cheap Shot Advice" and delicately alt-country album ender "Home". Endearment dribbles up from the woodwork, and it's almost enough to encourage a change of heart. Then I remember that I prefer my music with risk, color and variability.
As much as I would like to like Finding Fiction, because they're probably very nice fellows and they do nothing wrong, per se, Idaho By The Sea creates no spark to fire for me or for the genre. But that's the problem: they don't try to do something wrong. Their efforts should not be overlooked for the sake that Idaho isn't dreadful (although that might have been more exciting), but the record carves a niche of background pitter-patters, and that's about it. Boring indie rock isn't fun. Dictionaries are boring and so are definitions.