Lush dreamy synth-pop from Newcastle.
Track by Track guide by Fractions as featured in Q magazine
Into The Earth
This song was written as a good bye to our care free youths. We’re all between 25 and 29 now, so the world in recent years has become a slightly more serious place when considering the future.
Burst is a song about how sometimes truths get lost over time to what is chosen to be remembered. We’re all capable of remembering events or times in our lives from our own points of view, without considering the bigger picture. Sometimes we even do it to support what we want to believe at a particular time. Like complaining about having no money to someone, forgetting to tell them you bought stuff, drank and ate out most days the previous week which is why your now broke.
Not feeling connected to standard paths the general public expects you to take in life. I guess being Twenty Nine I should be saving up for a house or thinking about having kids with my girl friend of Six years, not doing Synth Pop bands. At the same time the song is sort of saying don’t let all that stuff weigh you down and stop being a miserable bastard.
In recent years I’ve spent a lot more time with my grandparents, as they’ve all hit that stage where they haven’t got a huge amount of time left. Resist is about the realisation/ fear that one day everyone reaches old age and our bodies stop working before we die.
Fate is really about getting used to being let down in life. Everyone in the world has to deal with being let down in some way shape or form, though in most cases we end up stronger for it, as you cant go through life letting situations that don’t work out defeat you.
released September 8, 2014
*Drowned In Sound*
I feel compelled to start this piece with a confession. An innate fondness for noisy scruffbags means that I’m almost always a bit wary of bands who arrive onto our radars sounding fully formed. You know the ones I mean, right? Those ones who take their time to launch themselves at the public, like they’ve been surreptitiously crafted in a lab somewhere. The types who selfishly keep what they’ve got a secret, flagrantly flouting the law of local scenes that they should first spend a couple of years rolling about on the floor of dreadful bars getting soaked in piss and beer while they play badly to crowds consisting of their parents and a couple of reluctant mates from their place of education or employment.
Anyway, here are Fractions, one of those kind of bands whose existence causes me such inner turmoil. A relatively new name to the North East and beyond, their self-titled EP represents the first ripple they’ve made on the pond of our consciousness, a handful of gigs aside. They’re precisely the sort of band who make DIY idiots like me uncomfortable because their music is so beautifully and flawlessly put together that they sound like they’ve been together for years, but they’ve just had the gall not to bother us with their finely crafted output until they were absolutely bloody ready.
Anyway, thanks to their their steadfast refusal to be rushed, we’re fortunate to have been treated to one of the most wonderful EPs of 2014. It drifts into being with 'Into the Air', which feels like a twenty-first century update on the Cocteau Twins, a coolly ethereal treat. From this point in, the mood is set, and we’re taken on a delightful wintry journey, with the combination of Lucy Gallagher’s vocal and the frosty synths providing a lovely fuck you to sun-worshippers. In fact, the whole record is entirely chilly in tone, but in places it is still contradictorily uplifting. 'Breathe' in particular is a high point, a pop song to get utterly lost in, richly textured and as catchy as anything Chvrches have produced.
Much has been made of the Fractions’ credentials as goths within the synthpop genre, but it’s also something which is pretty much inescapable when you spend much time in the company of this record. For all the waves of M83-esque bliss, there’s still a real underlying feeling of darkness at times. It emerges most obviously during penultimate track 'Resist', where Gallagher’s vocal lurks under the tide of electronic foreboding, cooing menacingly beneath the surface, occasionally threatening to burst forth before eventually being submerged by the icy seas of synths.
Fraction is an EP which has challenged my conceptions about how bands should emerge into public awareness. It sounds something which has been the result of absolutely painstaking work on the part of the band’s five members, and their effort has been completely and utterly worthwhile. It’s a stunningly enriching collection of music which proves that sometimes it’s best to trust bands to wait until they’re ready to show you what they’ve got.
A right good slice of synthpop for you right now. It's called 'Breathe' and it's by Fractions, a band from the North East of England. The song is mainly characterised by a veritable wall of sound in distorted synth style, a thick sound that seems to fizz, hiss and crunch all around. It's bolstered by '80s-style power drums, featuring shattering cymbals and simple-but-deadly snare fills; glittering guitars weave their way through the air above the gloss of bass; a female vocal like a shard of sunlight floats through the heavy noise of the track. Listening to this is the aural equivalent of looking at a hypothetical Turner painting version of some desolate English town centre - a bit sad, a bit beautiful and a bit violent.
Female-fronted synthpop has become something of an in-vogue sound in recent years. Hot young bands emerge frequently, glancing to the 80s for inspiration before producing luscious electro sounds overlaid with the vocal talents of a pretty young girl. This has turned synthpop into a genre that has once again affected the mainstream consciousness, soundtracking television advertisements and headlining festivals. A good time for the North East quintet Fractions to introduce themselves, then, with the release of their self-titled debut EP.
That said, it is very unlikely that Fractions will be helping to sell a car anytime soon. Their synthpop sound is darker, and considerably more gloomy than that of many of their present-day contemporaries. Each band member worked in seclusion to complete the EP, spending hours alone in their respective bedroom studios, and so it is perhaps apt that much of their lyrical content addresses themes such as isolation and detachment.
Fractions were borne from the ashes of the hardcore band Lavotchkin, and the five-piece have worked together since 2012. Comparisons have been drawn between their sound and that of synthpop heavyweights CHVRCHES, but while similarities do exist, Fractions are definitely their own band. Particularly, whereas CHVRCHES have the cute vocal talents of Lauren Mayberry, Fractions have the reverberating strains of Lucy Gallagher, whose presence echoes around the EP, sometimes loud and clear but sometimes fading eerily into the background.
Their debut EP Fractions is five tracks long, and lasts a healthy twenty minutes. It opens with “Into The Earth”, a two-and-a-half minute introduction that, stylistic and gender differences aside, wouldn’t seem out of place opening one of The Cure’s darker albums. Lucy haunts in the background for much of the track, as synth and other instrumentation takes centre stage, and when she finally does come to the forefront she’s quiet and muffled. This could be a sound mixing issue, but the track serves as a good opener to the EP and a good signal of what is to come. Next up is “Burst”, Fractions’ standout track. The opening riffs of guitar and the echo of Lucy’s voice as she sings about her definition of truth is reminiscent of the 90s rockers Lush, and has a quality to it that recalls the sound of shoegaze. (In a world in which we often compound genre titles together, could this perhaps be termed ‘synthgaze’?)
Track three is their debut single “Breathe”, released last year on a small independent label to limited acclaim. It, again, demonstrates a much more mature sound than you’d expect from relative fledging’s releasing their first real material. Track four, “Resist”, is the longest track on the EP and is an eerie number about old age. It begins with fast-paced keys that sound ever so slightly out of tempo with the rest of the song, and this works to good effect, making “Resist” the most unique and eclectic of what Fractions has to offer.
*IN THE JUNK YARD MUSIC*
**New band alert** we have just been sent the sparkling debut track from Newcastle based five-piece Fractions.
When it comes to the (many) synth-pop tracks we’ve listened to over the course of the year so far, ‘Breathe’ sits itself towards the top of the ladder and the fact it marks their debut makes the track even more impressive.
Drawing you in with an atmospheric wall of sound, the multi-layeredtrack is laced in long-drawn out synths, providing a focal point on what is a well-produced debut single. The band has promised there will be further new material released in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled.
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