Fairuza 'AFK'
Fairuza - AFK EP

Fairuza, named after US actress Fairuza Balk ('"Deuces Wild", "Almost Famous", "The Craft"), officially released their EP, entitled "AFK", on April 21st, 2006. Kryzzz, from the band, tells me that it stands for 'Away From Keyboard'. Anyone who plays online games, or spends time in chatrooms etc, will recognise the abbreviation. The title was chosen in recognition of the fact that Fairuza have "away from" the music scene for a long time.

The EP is a five-track offering. Two more tracks and it could, technically, be an Album, but that would just be a rip-off! The tracks are:

Wait Don't Wait [4:24]
Get Me A Gun [4:12]
30 Seconds [4:24]
Broken Leg [3:40]
Dancing In The Moonlight [3:52]

Anyone who liked Fairuza's previous offering, the mini-album (or 'EP', if you prefer that) "You're Beautiful", will be similarly pleased with this release. The style and genre is the same, the vocals are similar but a little more grown up, as are the arrangements. However, on the other hand, there hasn't been a huge development in the intervening 3 years. That may be because the band are happy with their sound and see no reason to change it.

Reading from the Biography page of Fairuza's website, you might think you were in for a treat. "Think dancing in the moonlight..old typewriters..thunderstorms..falling in love..feather boas..having sex in an austin mini..dreaming..A Tuning fork has been struck upon a star.. ". Well, unless they're the lyrics of a hidden song on the EP, you are (unfortunately) going to be a little bit disappointed.

"Get Me A Gun" displays good riffs, good chorus and decent lyrics with the prequisite swear word. The vocal style - spoken rather than sung in parts - also adds something to the song. That's the good points of this catchy little tune. However, on the negative side of the balance sheet is the fact that the song brings nothing new to the world. It's good, but nothing else. After 2 mins 40 seconds there is a little stop-start followed by fashionable distorted vocal effects, that sounded like the end of the song, before ploughing on. This went for about 30 seconds. If it had ended then, instead of continuing to 4 mins and 10 seconds - repeating the chorus over and over for no apparent reason - it would have been a reasonable effort. All I know is that it doesn't do anything for me.

"Broken Leg" is a clever song although it doesn't start off that way. It starts of pretty tame but approaches the two-minute mark with a break in the music, overlaid with a whispered lyric, followed by a couple of lines spoken, not sung, (that might, in fact, be a sample) by a female vocalist. This accounts for about 35 seconds before the rest of the instruments crash back in. All in all, a reasonably good song, properly arranged, properly played (it seems to me, at least). Barring the middle of the song, it offers nothing unique but it is a decent effort.

"Dancing in the Moonlight" sounded great. Bass and drums at just the right levels, vocals coming in at a decent level as well, and even the guitars, when they kicked in. Yes, it's a cover version, but there is nothing wrong with that - particularly if done in homage to the original, which this is. Even the vocal style has been adjusted to fit the Phil Lynott mould and it works well. Smack bang in the middle of the song there is a nice little break where the vocals all overlay each other and produce a layered sound that actually complements the original, building to a crescendo that is broken by the guitar solo which is, itself, very well executed (at least, to my ear). The vocals make their way back in then, and continue to overlay the chorus and some reasonable rhythm guitar until the end of the song. It was one song on the EP that I didn't want to end, and I'd probably appreciate it more if it was at a live gig. If I went to see a Thin Lizzy tribute band and was presented with this, I wouldn't be disappointed.

"Wait don't wait" starts of acoustically, with a pretty good vocal style but unfortunately soon loses it's way. The rhythm guitar and drums kick in and the vocals have to strain to overcome them. The "Wait, don't wait" chorus line then arrives, seemingly very early but nonetheless welcome because it causes the rest of the instruments to drop into the background, even if it is only by shouting over them. After three repetitions of the lyric, however, the rest kick back in and the noise levels rise again. This whole process is repeated again, until, on the two-minute mark, things really kick off. A vocal style vaguely reminiscent of 'Robert Smith' of The Cure stretches to the upper ends of the singer's vocal range, encouraged and supported by decent enough backing vocals, over oddly uninspiring instruments. This lasts for about a minute or so until all music fades into the background and the solo vocal, if only for two lines, offers a glimpse of what could have been a very good, very unusual and very fresh song if the instruments were either left out or toned down to acoustic minimalism. The last 30 seconds+ are a mellow fade-out that is, in my opinion, a waste as it could easily have allowed the singer more than the last two lines to show what he could do.

"30 Seconds". I had to listen to the first few bars of this about ten times before it clicked what the guitar riff reminded me of. I'll get to it in a line or two, because I don't want to bias your reading of this, good or bad. There's nothing good or bad about this track. It's the most 'Anthemic' of the original material on the EP, in terms of arrangement. Reminds me in places of "Stilskin", who had a hit some years back with 'Inside' for (I think) a Levi's advert. Reminds me also, a bit, of N.I Rock band 'The Answer' and Dublin-based 'Jaded Sun', although this is a long way behind in terms of production and, moreso, originality. It does illustrate that the band have some potential. And eventually, it clicked: the riff I had to listen to repeatedly, to try identify, was a cross between the riff from David Bowie's "China Girl", crossed with the chorus from Olivia Newton John's "Let's Get Physical". Bizarre useless info of the day.

Fairuza, like their namesake, are a bit of a specialist interest. You'll either like them or not, simple as that. It's hard to categorise the band, or their sound, so they won't fit neatly into your own preconceived likes and dislikes. Their earlier offerings were a little more Marc Bolan-like (particularly live) in the avant garde sense, where the new release is more obviously rock-orientated. Other than that, there's not a lot else to say, except that I think that, while this is adequate, they can do a lot better than "AFK".
Review written by: Ron, IrishUnsigned -- ron@irishunsigned.com

back to demo reviews... back to home page...