Remember how the future looked in 1985? Some went so far as to say it was so bright you had to wear shades. There were grandiose visions of a new tomorrow, with hovering skateboards, fuel-efficient vehicles and holographic television. At least according to Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future, anyway. But we’re living in the new tomorrow and things don’t seem to be much different. We’re still wrestling with the threat of nuclear war, fossil fuels are dwindling and television’s still two-dimensional. Instead of evolving we seem to be revolving. And here comes Fischerspooner to keep the turntable rotating.
Some may credit that fashionable New York duo, comprised of Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer, for almost single-handedly starting the recent eighties-new-wave revival when they released #1 in 2002. They could be called the founding fathers of electro-clash, though that isn’t saying much — that genre died before anyone really knew what it meant. Still, Fischerspooner injected life into the ever tiring-electronic sound. With an insanely entertaining stage show complete with dance routines and belligerence, Fischerspooner flipped electronica on its head. By simply adding a verse-chorus-verse structure to synth beats, a new-new-wave style was born, and it’s since been copied by a number of artists. Before you know it, even Madonna may be pulling from Yaz and Stetsasonic.
Odyssey, the duo’s sophomore full-length, shows Fischerspooner maturing slightly and further exploring its own land of synth electronica. The record finds the songwriter (Spooner) and programmer (Fischer) in a far warmer surrounding than their previous release, featuring some rock-influenced tracks (“Just Let Go”) and other catchy new-wave gems like “We Need a War.” The album’s clear highlight, “Never Win,” is an infectious groove, thick with poppy beats and playful keyboards juxtaposed over Spooner’s rather negative lyrics about the group’s creative squabbles: “If I was not me/ I would hate me too/ Just like you do/ I don’t need to need you.”
Though it’s difficult to fully criticize Fischerspooner because of their impact on electronic and pop music, Odyssey is a little late and a touch weaker than its previous counterpart. Although it has its moments, the dreamy songs that fill up the better part of the album are dry and lackluster. This album is not as heroic as #1, but it does find artists who are pushing forward with a genre that’s rather historically oriented. We’re still plagued by the threat of nuclear war and living beyond our means, but at least we’ve got a few musicians who do a decent job of reinventing the past.