New Times (Phoenix, AZ) Issue June 1997

New Times (Phoenix, AZ) Issue June 1997

Faith No More
Album of the Year

by Joshua Sindell

King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime(1995) now stands, in light of this new release, as Faith No More's crowning achievement-where lurching and unpredictable rhythms met Mike Patton's conniption-fit vocals, as the art-deranged bombers of No Wave joined wild-at-heart lounge characters to do the cha-cha. It wasn't the metal-for-masses of The Real Thing or the go-to-hell follow-up of the perverse Angel Dust. Rather, it kept you guessing and pondering at its multifaceted planes both smooth and sharp, pressing "play" time and again like an ape with a one-task mind.

Despite its poor sales performance, KFAD is obviously the favorite of FNM's Billy Gould, the band's bassist and leader by default. The Gould-produced Album of the Year(with Roli Mosimann)follows too steadfastly its elder brother's game plan. The targets of the band's barbs haven't changed--Patton's lyrics lash out at consumerism in all shapes("Got That Feeling"), and the self-absorbed get skewered with swift asides. It's the same enticing mix of slick hipster jive and unbridled cynicism utilized by Steely Dan in the '70's, here goosed by Roddy Bottum's keyboards and the brillant Mike Bordin on drums.

Nor has the music changed a great deal, at least not for the worse: "Naked in Front of the Computer" is a fussy example of the band's trademark staccato anger; "Mouth to Mouth" slams and deftly dances the tango at the same time; and the Giorgio Moroderlike synth washes of "Stripsearch" meld to a familiar Patton croon, while dangerous riffing ensues at the climax. "Ashes to Ashes" is even better, with its Soundgarden stomp flirting with a New Romanticlike, arms-outstretched melody. These are the best of a 12-song collection that commits the ultimate Faith No More crime: It's a recording that goes down much too smoothly, a surfeit of sugar for such a meager dose of medicine. Missing is that invigorating sense of confusion, replaced by the suspicion that the usual intense concentration placed on the work has been leached away by side projects, such as Bottum's Imperial Teen and Patton's Mr. Bungle; even Bordin has spent most of the past couple of years touring with Ozzy Osbourne's band. Revealingly, AOTY clocks in at roughly a tidy 43 minutes, resulting in FNM's shortest CD in a decade.

The members of Faith No More seem finally(fatally?) unstrung by their internal differences on this, the misanthropic combo's sixth offering; Gould had to record this piecemeal, with guitarist Jon Hudson(the band's fourth since inception, following the defection of Dean Menta) together with whichever of his bandmates were in his homebase of San Francisco at any given time. At that point of a band's career, maybe it's best to call it a day: You risk yourself playing the fool for a lifetime.

Thanks to Nikos Michas.

Source: Nikos Michas
© 1995-2001,2011-2012 Stefan Negele