Smash Mouth meets Depeche Mode. However, they have been doing Fluke together for fifteen years, a pretty impressive amount of time when one actually digests that fast. The opening track to â€œPuppyâ€, Flukeâ€™s fifth album, is a fairly forgettable radio-friendly track that is driven quickly into the ground by a repetitive back-beat and annoyingly-inflected lyrics. The opening to â€œMy Spineâ€ recalls Trans-Europe Express in its highly emotive content and broad sound. Throughout â€œPuppyâ€, two distinct lines are created â€“ the above-average soundscapes laid down and the utterly pedestrian lyrics that obstruct the listeners from noticing the multiple levels of instruments laid down. Where there are moments on this disc that are genuinely solid, the vast majority of â€œPuppyâ€ is this same sort of re-hash that was not even fresh when Amp was playing this style in 1997 and 1998.
However, Flukeâ€™s flukes, like the enjoyable Chemical Brothers-esque romp â€œSwitchâ€™/Twitchâ€ shows the musicians behind the band as talented arrangers, throwing together a noisy guitar and fuzzy synth in a block-rocking track. The extended track lengths of songs on â€œPuppyâ€ is surely a key problem with this disc, as the individuals behind Puppy usually give a track about four minutes of viable material and try, usually unsuccessfully to stretch the source out to an untenable five, six, or even longer time. The lack of different approaches to the track list of â€œPuppyâ€ is another unavoidable issue, the fact that each track canâ€™t break out of the narrow range that â€œPuppyâ€ works in. The slight amount of jazz influence that â€œExpoâ€ has with its video game-soundtrack feel helps draw the CD out of the muck to a small degree, but nothing that minute could lift â€œPuppyâ€ up for long.
Fluke may have been around for fifteen years, but we must always remember that there artists that have never produced works of merit (think Rod Stewart or Carman) or were completely off with an album (Depeche Modeâ€™s Songs of Faith and Devotion). There are brief glimpses into the talent of Fluke, but nothing that lasts on â€œPuppyâ€ that would make this disc essential. â€œBlue Skyâ€ is the perfect example of a track that is too little, too late â€“ radio friendly, with smoothed out vocals and a chorus to boot. Electronic music is a hard genre to innovate in, and the path to innovation is littered with the bodies of failures â€“ AutoCAD and the like. Letâ€™s just hope, for Flukeâ€™s sake, that this was just a weak album.
Fluke â€“ Puppy / 2003 One Little Indian / 11 Tracks / http://www.flukenet.info / http://www.indian.co.uk / Reviewed 02 August 2004
Top Tracks: Switch/Twitch, Blue Sky