Paul Dixon has put on another guise in his brief career after David’s Lyre. Now known as Fyfe, the English singer-songwriter is back with a his first studio album under his new stage name.
Conversations starts the album with trembling drum patterns that sound as if Fyfe is mentally typing out his thoughts to his audience on an oral typewriter. There is an intimacy in this arrangement, though the lack of bass and oppressive steel hit makes it sound a bit cold and industrial. The hypnotic choruses bring back a bit of humanity however thanks to Fyfe’s carefree guitar licks, calming harmonies, reedy, expressive, yet innocent lead and a commanding ‘don’t fail me now’ hook.
Tracks from the 2013 EP Solace are featured here, including that effort’s title track, Holding On and For You. Solace’s smatterings of mellotron conjure a sense of stupor pervading suburbia. It oscillated between spacey and earthy, as choir-like keyboard pads mesh with ornate guitar picking over trap-like drum machine programming. This recurring motif of the combination of urbane monotony and warm musical backing continues on single Holding On, which combines supporting soothing melodies, sympathetic guitars and droning lyrics about life in hotel rooms. For You reinforces its message of devotion though repetition of its title and the line ‘everything I do’. Starting off gently with reflection, this grower eventually erupts with a strong saxophone solo dripping with longing.
Polythene Love leans towards the psychedelic, with sudden synth sweeps and crashing cymbals punctuating this duet between Fyfe and a female vocalist. Plaintive piano ballad In Waves almost induces sleep with its ‘in waves, in waves’ hook that threatens to go out of time at any second. It ultimately finds a musical focus as Fyfe mournfully pleads ‘you love, you love, you love’.
Keep It Together grooves easily with its grittier guitar and occasional flourishes that vary between fun and ferocious. The post-choruses ‘ooh ooh ooh’s provide a fascinating counter-beat that shake up the rhythm. Veins is sensual subtle house, relying on a ‘got me feeling higher’ vocal sample, pulsating percussion and even heavy breathing to wash all over listeners.
St Tropez is just as sunny as its title suggests, though its buzzy bass, ghostly ‘whoo ooh oooh ooh’s and sweeping brass pushes add a sinister flavour; think of Haunted by Beyonce and Boots. The title track begins the end of the album stripped back. It then meanders through a cacophony of sounds that suggest possibilities. The mellow midtempo section right after the chorus gives way to chaotic sequenced bits that underlie a true loss of control as the melody manically goes all over the place, before a slow, breathy ending that feels final.
Control is a mostly relaxed, interesting effort that manages to throw in unexpected musical twists for listeners. Fyfe has done enough to match the colourful eccentric face paint on the album cover.