Fellow Project - Stable Life (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Fellow Project

Stable Life (2011)

Answer Key Records

When I usually hear a spoken word sample at the start of a record it almost always signifies that some kick ass, fast paced hardcore/melodic punk rock is going to follow once it ends. However, Fellow Project seems to throw a spanner in the works in that respect as the opening sample is a prelude to an intricate, angular and musically less than straightforward opening track in "Off Track Days." That's not to say that this is a difficult sound to listen to because it's not. It's more the case of there being layers, some exemplary drumming and some impressive tangential changes musically, making this an extremely listenable piece of work.

This approach is continued across the other nine tracks on the album with it never really sticking to one formula, and that is the strength of this piece of work. That variety, accompanied by some accomplished musicianship, lyrics that seem to tell stories as opposed to simply imparting views and a twin vocal delivery (male and female) that works extremely well, means that Stable Life is a record which demands attention from start to finish. For a perfect example of how the two vocals work together, listen to "Mr. Mars," which features the more aggressive male vocals combined with the much softer female vocals--this is an impressive song in all respects. There is so much going on here that it's tough to draw yourself away from the album even if you find yourself desperately needing to do something else.

The intensity that is inherent does not come across as forced nor does it get in the way of the individual instruments, which weave their way in and out of the songs with ease. This isn't straight up punk rock but it certainly contains the raw energy that one associates with that overarching genre; however, it veers off in directions that even with repeated plays are continually surprising. One minute I think I'm listening to something that might have been a Thursday song and the next I'm off listening to Gang of Four before being taken into some of the more off kilter places inhabited by some Dischord bands, all done seamlessly and without that often heard crunching of gears as a change takes place. Despite these references to the more intricate musical approach, that doesn't mean that there is no place for melody and frequently Fellow Project throw in a catchy line or riff that helps make the songs stand out.

"Horse of the Year" brings the album to a close and, once over, there is another sample, and it is here that I should admit I might have been a bit slow on the uptake: I eventually made the connection that the first and last tracks have horse racing themes as do the two samples used. Hell, the album is also called Stable Life, which should have given me an immediate clue!

Regardless of my inability to process somewhat obvious information that quickly, one thing is for certain: Fellow Project has produced an engaging, organic and visceral piece of work that grabs and retains my attention with relative ease and as this is the band's fourth album I now have some back catalog to seek out.

Does anyone want to know that there is a Bridge and Tunnel connection with this band? If so, then there is--as to what (or who) that is, why don't you go and find out and then listen to this album.