Fightstar – They Liked You Better When You Were Dead (CD)

Fightstar may just have been the biggest signing that Deep Elm has made ever in their tenure as a indie rock / emo record label. Sure, bands have grown up after being signed to the label (Brandtson, The Appleseed Cast), but Fightstar is HUGE in the United Kingdom. The opening track to “They Liked Your Better”, “Paint Your Target” is the musical equivalent of smashing up a room; chaos reigns but there is some sort of beauty in the wreckage. The use of multiple vocalists during the average track on the disc is a nice modification of the typical “rock” sound that the band purveys.

Even when the band starts off slower (as is the case during “Amethyst”), it is only a short period of time before they slide into a style that is tempestuous. Let us not forget that Fightstar has some music talent behind those heavy riffs; the slower sections of “Amethyst” shows a band that can mix and match riffs successfully with the best of them. The tracks on “They Liked You Better” are by no means short, but the confidence shown by Fightstar is enough to make time fly by like nothing else. “Until Then” is perhaps the least “heavy” that Fightstar gets on this album; the emoting present on this track is at least as furious as the instrumental interludes that nevertheless find their way to a major place on this disc. “Cross Out The Stars” shows that the influences of Fightstar are not only focused in the “emo” and “rock” genres, but find their way as far out as Dave Matthews.

If I could only give one word when reviewing “They Liked You Better”, I would have to say expansive. Fightstar has a full style that means even simple introductions (as is present during “Hazy Eyes”) really transcend any expectations in the enjoyment one can draw from the track. With nary a mistake to slow down the momentum of the album, Fightstar is worthy of the AP’s “100 Bands You Need To Know”; while tracks later on the disc might not have the newness of “Paint Your Target”, they are still rock-solid examples of what a band should attempt to do. Three years together has made this album not only catchy, but enthralling; Fightstar will undoubtedly be on major stages in the United States for years to come.

Top Tracks: Mono, Paint Your Target

Rating: 7.1/10

Fightstar – They Liked You Better When You Were Dead / 2006 Deep Elm / 9 Tracks / http://www.fightstarmusic.com / http://www.deepelm.com / Reviewed 13 March 2006

[JMcQ]

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