Perhaps it’s appropriate to approach debut albums like Fischerspooner’s #1 with a bit of skepticism. After all, Fischerspooner’s reputation for having extravagant live shows precedes them. The album comes packaged with a bonus DVD of video and documentary footage and the artwork incorporates media blurbs including the following from NME: “Fischerspooner are the best thing to happen to music since electricity.”
Considering that the release of this album is almost after the fact, the hype may be at least partially justified. New York-based Fischerspooner have been drawing crowds to live performances for a couple of years now, and a good portion of the material on this album has been previously released in other forms. But the question still remains. Are Fischerspooner really this pretentious, or are we supposed to be amused by the level of pretentiousness that they’re faking?
The line between satire and seriousness is a fine one, and Fischerspooner refuse to draw it clearly for us. The guessing game alone is enough to keep you busy for a while. And the DVD, which collects photo slideshows, music videos, song remixes, show backdrop projections, and a documentary about the group, won’t necessarily help you clarify your opinion. The documentary uncovers Fischerspooner’s art school beginnings and shows frontman Casey Spooner expressing his desire to “kick fame’s ass.” Really, is this not a bit self-indulgent? Or is self-indulgence the point? My mother, watching over my shoulder for a few minutes (long enough to catch plenty of Siouxsie Sioux eye makeup, glitter, goth aerobics, and some philosophizing by Spooner), sarcastically inquired as to whether I was watching Christopher Guest’s latest film.
Bonus features and media hype aside, as a music recording, #1 shows that, at their best, composer Warren Fischer and vocalist/lyricist Casey Spooner can produce dance music that makes as much sense in your bedroom as it does on stage or in a club. Unfortunately, there is nothing here that hasn’t been heard before, and the album loses steam after the first three tracks. The album’s opener, “Sweetness,” is its best offering; the song’s frenetic pacing and overall sinister sound is undeniably catchy.
Fischerspooner’s cover of Wire’s “The 15th” is the only track that manages to slow down and still hold my interest. The single “Emerge,” with its oscillating synth lines, backing vocals by frequent contributor Lizzy Yoder, and “sounds good / looks good / feels good too” manifesto is also pretty infectious. The album closes with the scatological “Megacolon” and Junkie XL’s remix of “Emerge.” In between, a definite sameness sets in as tracks with promising beginnings fizzle out quickly; the remainder of the songs collected here, abstracted as they are from Fischerspooner’s live performances, come across as, well, a bit boring.