Local Review: Fearless Union – The Supreme Leader
Local Music Reviews
The Supreme Leader
Fearless Union = Information Society – Star Trek + Hip-Hop
In the enigmatic world of Fearless Union, genres are passé. The rigid lines that once divided synthpop from trance from industrial from hip hop from jazz have all been blurred to the point where classification is obsolete.
For this adventure, I’ve been blindfolded and thrown down a rabbit hole. I don’t know if Fearless Union is an individual or a collective. They might be a mysterious philosophy or a distant cousin of Deb Demure. Both are unlikely. You never know.
The Supreme Leader is an interesting album to listen to and a nightmare to try to describe. Most of the vocals sound like they’re being routed through a megaphone. It’s a mix of spoken word, rapping and singing in a variety of styles that range from Jimmy Somerville’s falsetto to the post-vaudeville enun-ci-a-tion of Taco’s rendition of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” At times it sounds like Trent Reznor if he replaced his anger with a coy sense of cynicism and satire. I suppose that puts Fearless Union somewhere near Pop Will Eat Itself’s “Wise Up! Sucker” or anything from the Sigue Sigue Sputnik catalog (track eight is titled “Heat Seeking Love Missiles,” which probably has nothing to do with the SSS track “Love Missile F1-11”). I don’t think I’m misreading the vibe. Should I be taking things more seriously?
Sonically The Supreme Leader is all over the electronic map. Fearless Union hoards a wide swath of styles and flings them around the room. Sometimes it feels like the high-energy antics of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, sometimes it bangs along like ’90s Underworld (Mk2) or like a neighbor up the street spinning The Prodigy (without the deep kick of the low end). From time to time, there is a warm guitar noodling underneath the electronics. These sections feel more like U2 than they sound like U2. Thankfully, there’s a rawness to the mix and recording that favors the ad hoc nature of the songs, but occasionally there’s a muddiness when too many elements are fighting to be heard: it could be a mastering issue, or done entirely on purpose.
Where the album stumbles the most is that every song feels like two or three different songs mashed together. Sometimes this works for me. Sometimes it doesn’t. Ultimately, however, the competing structure makes it all blur together. None of it sounds the same. None of it consistently stands out. “The Lifesoul,” the album’s final truck, ends up being the most recognizable because it sounds like it belongs on a different album entirely.
There’s a lot of talent evident in The Supreme Leader. There just isn’t much focus. Musicians will be impressed by the range; electronic and hip-hop fans will love different bits and pieces, but the eclectic and eccentric structure of the songs make it hard to know who I would recommend it in part or in whole to. How adventurous are you feeling? –Ryan Michael Painter
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