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Fake Problems - It's Great to Be Alive (Cover Artwork)

Fake Problems

Fake Problems: It's Great to Be AliveIt's Great to Be Alive (2009)
Side One Dummy Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
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Contributed by: crackpotdemagoguecrackpotdemagogue
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The hype machine has been screaming the words "fake" and "problems" at the top of its lungs for quite some time now -- and people have been listening. Other reviews of Fake Problems' latest offering, It's Great to Be Alive, are already proclaiming the band to be â??this year's Gaslight Anthem' and it is difficult to find anything written of the Naples, Florida based four-piece where neighbours, the influential Against Me!, are not referenced. But by signing to Side One Dummy for this latest release, the band have taken a symbolic leap, out of the shadows of their older contemporaries and into the spotlight all on their own.

The group have clearly matured musically since writing their previous full-length, How Far Our Bodies Go, and as such there is added instrumentation, mainly of the brass persuasion, to be found on these new songs. Essentially, the progression of Fake Problems is one that seems entirely natural -- an evolution in musicianship that has led to a more layered, slightly more complex sound. The band are still entirely in love with simple melody, as is documented by single "The Dream Team," but there is something more to be found here. The epic ending to "You're a Serpent, You're a She-Snake" arrives like a bolt from the sky, preceding "Don't Worry Baby," which at one point breaks into something that resembles an Eastern-European shanty Eugene Hutz would be proud of.

Again, Chris Farren's lyricism is intriguing and imaginative as he continues on his journey into the realms of the existential -- this time repeatedly pondering heaven, hell and religiosity. "Level with the Devil" is a great wondering staccato jig, complete with kazoo, keys and trumpet, accompanied by some great guitar work from Casey Lee and ending with an atmospheric, glockenspiel-infused acoustic outro that has Farren singing, "Do you believe in me / are you gonna sleep tonight / do you believe in anything / are you gonna sleep tonight with a Bible under your bed?"

"Diamond Rings" is an obvious contender for the next single, and is certainly one for all the bad dancers among us, including what sounds like an appearance from Prince on backing vocals. The humble "Tabernacle Song" is a reflective ballad pinned together with keys, and is contrasted with the following number, the raucous "Alligator Assassinator," which is absolutely begging to be blared from the stereo of an old '57 Chevy convertible and driven at high speeds through the neon-emblazoned streets of Las Vegas at 3 a.m. in the morning.

Casey Lee documents that he truly understands what it means to be a â??lead guitarist' on "These Are Times" with some outstanding playing, while Farren confesses to talking to himself on the acoustic number "Too Cold to Hold." The album then draws to a conclusion with "Heart BPM," a song that celebrates the uncertainty of youth and the beauty of life -- a sentiment that exudes from the album, an album that is accomplished, honest, and at times brilliant. But Fake Problems are yet to peak. It's Great to Be Alive is a fine collection of songs that is worthy of praise, but it is undoubted that the best is most certainly still to come from these four boys from Naples, who are telling us that they are ready now -- ready to stand on their own two feet.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - As The Eternal CowboyAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseOperation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityThe Clash - London CallingFake Problems - Real Ghosts Caught on TapeThe Gaslight Anthem - Señor and the Queen

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TVPARTY (December 27, 2009)

I really don't get the Gaslight comparisons. But maybe I haven't heard enough of this yet.

justinhangsout (June 26, 2009)

I fucking loved How Far Our Bodies Go, and this record, musically, is totally different, and when I first listened to it, I liked it, and after hearing it beginning to end a few times, It grew on me, and hearing the songs live solidified how fucking awesome this record is.

screeching_bottlerocket (April 29, 2009)

these songs sound amazing live.

punckass (April 1, 2009)

i think there are times when it does sound like modest mouse, just that sea shanty style i guess. kinda sounds like some of mad caddies on occassion too.

MYfirstMillion (February 22, 2009)

Hahah, This album and "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" sound nothing alike! lol. That was a funny comparison

travis---- (February 21, 2009)

this-8
sink or swim-8
59 sound-9
senor and the queen-10

travis---- (February 21, 2009)

good record. but i really enjoyed how far our bodies go more

damnitsderek (February 21, 2009)

Pretty good. I have a feeling this album is going to be a grower, but it's solid on the first spin.

i-type-poorly (February 20, 2009)

I wish the songs were longer. I guess that shows how good the album is. My favorite release of the year so far...

JonDreamy (February 20, 2009)

"Do you believe in me / are you gonna sleep tonight / do you believe in anything / are you gonna sleep tonight with a Bible under your bed?"

No.

jumptheshark (February 20, 2009)

At first this didn't to much for me. Now I can't stop listening to it, and I'd put it just a notch below The 59 Sound (which is one of my top 5 albums of all time, pending how well it holds up).

I really love that this is a loose concept album (which I think is the best way to go with concept albums) about The American Dream and personal, existential struggles along the way, with no real answers ever reached. And the music is outrageously fun and original, but somehow still works with the weighty themes. So I've obviously completely put my foot in my mouth on the comment that it's got empty lyrics - i just wasn't paying much attention (although I'd still say that "You're a Serpent..." and "Alligator Assassinator" aren't all that deep, but they're both such fun songs in their own ways that I give 'em a pass). Pretty remarkable that such a young band made this (btw - anyone know how old they actually are?).

llmp (February 19, 2009)

I wanna play...
This=9
Sometimes...=9
Sink Or Swim=10
...
59 Sound=7, bitches!

mikexdude (February 19, 2009)

Shut up Dante!

Don't even front, I'll fuck your shit up any day! DC BRO, BRING IT!

Dante3000 (February 19, 2009)

This = 7
Sometimes Things just disappear = 10

I don't want to grow up = 23456789953456789988604975958985985695695786 etc


Dude...This album is gonna blow your mind when you grow some pubes. Actually, you'll probably just be stoked on having some pubes.
-Dante

misterspike (February 19, 2009)

Ok, so my emusic account refreshed today and I was finally able to pick this up. Er. "Pick this up."

Hypeworthy. My '09 best of list has a contenduh.

mikexdude (February 19, 2009)

This = 7
Sometimes Things just disappear = 10

I don't want to grow up = 23456789953456789988604975958985985695695786 etc

spec (February 19, 2009)

Seriously, just fuckin with ya. If nothing else, your creative.

spec (February 19, 2009)

10 dollars to anybody who can figure out what in the fuck Dante's post says.

erff (February 19, 2009)

I am really suprised at how good this album is.

Does anyone else think this sorta sounds like Modest Mouses " We were dead before the ship even sank" at times?

codu (February 19, 2009)

"Diamond Rings" really reminds me of "Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners" at times.

knifetrader (February 19, 2009)

This = 8
59 Sound = 10

Sink or Swim = 11

Lorah471 (February 18, 2009)

I like How Far Our Bodies Go A LOT better.
The great thing about HFOBG is that on the album it has all these extra instruments and baking vocals that complement the songs really well, but it also sounds really great live without it all.

With It's Great To Be Alive, I LOVED all the songs live. But with all the extra stuff, I don't really care for it. The lyrics are as great as ever, I just don't think it sounds as good/like them.

Maybe I just had way too high of expectations. I only LOVE 4 or 5 of the songs. Compared to the entirety of HFOBG.

MYfirstMillion (February 18, 2009)

He says "You are every occurance I cannot control." Ha, i thought it was cunt when i first heard it too.

The ultimate experience with this record:

1) Get a dub of shrooms.
2) Eat them.
3)Wait for them to kick in.
4)Put on this album.
((Now, you think that it would be not that great to trip to this kind of music, but wait!!))
5)Wait for "Heart BPM" and you will fully understand life and nothing will ever bring you down!!!!

STAY AND FIGHT YO! ;)

Scarysmurf (February 18, 2009)

I like it.
Don't love it, but its good.

SouthernLovin (February 18, 2009)

Bettar than the '59 Sound. ;)

name (February 18, 2009)

is that line in 1234 "you are every cunt i cannot control" or do i just suck at hearing?

Nap (February 18, 2009)

This = 8
59 Sound = 10

onegirlarmy (February 18, 2009)

Wasn't into this until I saw FP recently and they played a ton of these songs live; now, I'm in love with this record. That's how it worked for me with How Far Our Bodies Go too. Great record!

alpod4 (February 18, 2009)

I place this album above the 59 sound.

blip (February 18, 2009)

one of the few truly overrated bands on this site. their songs ring hollow and they're so far behind the curve of trendy folk they might as well be a derivative of a derivative.

scientistrock (February 18, 2009)

Some great titles btw. Any band that names a song "Heaven and Hell Cotillion" has earned my undying love...Which I think they already had for some sort of 30 rock reference in an interview or some gay shit. Gaylords!

Blackjaw_x (February 18, 2009)

"And what album "Hey You Left Your Skirt At My House" on?"

Watching The Bull Get The Matador, from 2005

ashtraymonument (February 18, 2009)

meh.

scientistrock (February 18, 2009)

It's like the more recent Against Me! records if Tom was literate, and with different instruments.

nameless (February 18, 2009)

Great album. It took awhile to grow on me at first, but, when it did... well, it hasn't really left my iPod since then.

And what album "Hey You Left Your Skirt At My House" on?

LinoleumMagazine (February 18, 2009)

So far I'm really digging this album. It does still remind me of Against Me! on some songs, but I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

I don't see this being this years Gaslight Anthem because Gaslight is about a zillion times better than these guys (in my opinion).

mattramone (February 18, 2009)

brangelina is as objective as it gets.

ffwoodycock (February 18, 2009)

"you guys are so predictable"

i knew you were gonna say that

CCSummers (February 18, 2009)

you guys are so predictable

Dante3000 (February 18, 2009)

More like, "My first million handjobs to Derek Perry", amirite, guy a few comments down?!

Seriously, if I had to rate this album on it's level as a Hindu god, it would be Ram, the 7th incarnation of Vishnu and king of Ayodhya.
-Dante

telegraphrocks (February 18, 2009)

2nd best album of the year...

baseball (February 18, 2009)

I'm impressed!

yoOZ (February 18, 2009)

in my opinion awesome album, from an awesome band.

that_band_changed_my_life (February 18, 2009)

I think it was the steroids.

acris (February 18, 2009)

brangelina's comment is biased

spinnin77 (February 18, 2009)

this record is flawless in my opinion! not one bad song on the whole darn thing!

brangelina (February 18, 2009)

So much promise! So much talent!

MYfirstMillion (February 18, 2009)

Are you guys kidding me? World Inferno/Friendship Society? (how does that make sense, these bands don't sound AT ALL the same.) This album is overrated???

Not at all. I fell in love with Fake Problems the day I saw them open for Against Me!, not knowing who they were, but when they opened with "Motion of the Ocean", I knew how sweet they were and they quickly became one of my favorites of all time.

"It's Great To Be Alive" is definitely going to be their break-thru album, and there is nothing non-original about it.

They are not trying to sound like anyone, and every song on that album is pure originality and amazes me every time I hear it.

Fake Problems has came a long way, not being swaggered by the big-money companies, and I love them to death.

"It's Great To Be Alive" is my vote on best album of 09, and stays on my list of top five albums of ALL-Time.

Love some FP!

ffwoodycock (February 18, 2009)

awesome, 2nd best of the year (behind scrambles).

anyone get their preorder from vinyl collective yet?

astronautjones (February 18, 2009)

it's records like these that make me grateful for downloading because otherwise i might have wasted my money.

slymer (February 18, 2009)

I ordered on vinyl. Looking forward to hearing it. I really wanted to like How Far Our Bodies Go, but I never really got into it. Had a few standout tracks. I dug his song on the Pink Couch, but I guess that was an extra track and not included on this album.

Score is for what I hope the album will sound like.

panicbomb (February 18, 2009)

Amazing album. Really great dudes too. Can't wait to see them again.

preston (February 18, 2009)

Yeah, this really surprised me. I'm now a big fan of these guys after dismissing them for so long.

This is like if Against Me! and Tony Joe White (check him out) had a swampy jam.

nocigar (February 18, 2009)

these guys are great, need to get this..pronto.

Dante3000 (February 18, 2009)

These kids love the cock.
Also, the World/Inferno comment leads me to believe you've never heard much of either band.
-Dante

PtvnSux94 (February 18, 2009)

Bought this yesterday afternoon and have alreading listened to it 3 times, FUCKING GREAT!!!

misterspike (February 18, 2009)

Can't wait to pick this up. How Far Our Bodies ... has been on serious rotation on my iPod lately ....

mattramone (February 18, 2009)

Oh, and "Heart BPM" is their best song since "Hey You Left Your Skirt At My House."

mattramone (February 18, 2009)

Their best release to date and one of the best of the year so far. I've had this practically on loop for coming on three months now and it hasn't gotten tiring.

Blackjaw_x (February 18, 2009)

Catchy, dancey, awesome. I missed their quieter stuff at first, but there's nothing stopping me from going back and listening to Oh No! or Watching The Bull...

danperrone (February 18, 2009)

not good...this band wants to be world inferno friendship society really badly

oldpunkerforever (February 18, 2009)

I Like this, not as good as some people are making it out to be, but still a good listen, I like the new Smartbomb better-oldpunker-

Nap (February 18, 2009)

Great record... but people are overrating it!

Kurasuke (February 18, 2009)

Much better than How Far Our Bodies Go. So much greatness.

P-Fresh (February 18, 2009)

This record is great. Really a lot better than anything else they've done prior.

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