Chapel Hill residents Fin Fang Foom's debut full-length seems mildly intriguing on first listen, delivering enough power-trio angularity and lyrical angst to acquit themselves more than adequately with post-punk fans. In addition, there's the now almost obligatory variation of style to challenge more discriminating music enthusiasts. But repeated listenings reveal a depth of realization that's almost sublime.Featuring Eddie Sanchez on bass, Mike Glass on drums and Mike Triplett on guitar, the songs, for the most part, build around ornate, tricky instrumental runs. Sanchez's tough-guy voice cries out smart-guy lyrics, careening through emotional landscapes that range from raw to reflective. There's a nice arc to the proceedings, from the heavy vibrations of the first song, "The Fool and the Feign," through the prog-style, nearly labyrinthine jams "Dead Ringer" and "Blue Holes," to "Crying, but Without Tears," a mordant piano dirge. This album sounds dark and large, but never to the point of oppression, settling instead for a somber, suggestive mood befitting the album's title.
Flutes, vibes and the occasional string part adorn the punctuated chop-chord rock of the arrangements without ever getting showy. Fans of classic punk bands The Honor Role and The Great Unraveling will want to check this out, but the band that comes most readily to mind is Cole, a sorely missed, underrated Chapel Hill trio who put out one of 1998's great records, Idea of City. Powerful and addictive, Fin Fang Foom's disc comes with a punch but leaves with a caress.