Foreign Born are one of the seemingly endless
crop of current bands to mine the music of the 80s as their
primary inspiration. As someone who grew up in the New Wave
era (and did, in fact, have embarrassing hair in the 1980s!),
i fully appreciate this. (I just wish that really stupid, huge
hairdos would come back! Do they even make mousse anymore?)
Foreign Born are the most overtly Echo and the Bunnymen influenced
band i have heard since, well, 2001, when i
actually saw Echo and the Bunnymen.
I have never been a big Bunnymen fan, but i don't hate the
band either. However, on this debut EP, Foreign Born do a fine
job with the sound. I think it helps that while the singer
is clearly aping Ian McCulloch, the guitarist is obviously
a big fan of Boy-era U2.
(Remember way back when, when The Edge was an exciting guitarist?
Yeah, that's what i am talking about.) There are five songs
here. Let's take a brief look at each.
Entryway kicks off the EP with a nice Peter
Hookish bass riff. Then some high pitched keys come in, along with drums, guitar, and a mopey voice. The song builds to a nice frenzy in the middle, and overall is rather pleasant.
We Had Pleasure is next, and this song is really dominated by a cheesey
keyboard riff. (I love cheesey keyboard riffs, by the way.) There is also a
great rhythm here: the guitarist chugging along, and the drummer playing a
series of staccato hits. When i listen to the parts of this song that don't
have the keyboards, i finally see the connection between The
Purrs and Echo
and the Bunnymen. This song is the bridge between those two bands. It is a
Up next is It Grew On You, a song which did, in fact, grow on me.
On initial listening, i thought that the vocalist's Bowie-esque crooning was
irritating, but on further listens i found that the rest of the band is doing
some very interesting things. The guitars are positively whirring along, while
the drummer keeps a loping beat. It's not their best work, but is not too bad.
I wish i could say the same for Exactly on the Verge, which is Foreign Born's ballad. Ugh. Now that New Wave is being assimilated into mainstream culture, do we have to cope with "the ubiquitous ballad" on every release? Please, don't. Just don't.
Fortunately, Foreign Born end with another winner, the rocking title track, In the Remote Woods. Here, the guitarist is doing his best to channel The Edge, and the vocalist sings under a weight of echo. Fans of early U2 will adore this. And i can picture the 80's video for this one: 4 very pale young lads with windswept (and HUGE) hair playing guitar atop a mountain in Scotland... Wonderful stuff.
Overall, i am impressed. Not a flawless debut, but there is much here for a crusty old New Waver like myself to enjoy. Now, where exactly did i hide my skinny ties?