Fawn_SpotsFrom Safer Place, the début album from York-based punk trio Fawn Spots, rests on a tipping point: written, recorded and self-produced at the bands own rehearsal space, it captures them in ferocious form, a band at the threshold of the familiar and about to slash and burn their way into unknown territory. Having built a fearsome and hard won reputation on the live circuit, this is an album that both confirms their status as one of the UK’s most intense and classically referenced hardcore bands, while in parallel sees them drive a hard cold chisel through our expectations.In releasing an album about growth and maturation with From Safer Place, Fawn Spots appear to be at a moment of realisation that speed comes at the expense of flexibility: hardcore function and fundamentals, the familiar ground, is being challenged through evolutionary process and learning.

They rip into opener ‘New Sense’ with a needle sharp white light focus that explodes into your consciousness with all the driven melody and taut efficiency we expect, then perform a sudden volte face of arpeggiation and silence, before the compressed and channeled rage and frustration resumes.  It’s a technique that’s repeated throughout the album. Working within and around the limitations of twin guitars and the voices of Jonathan Meager and Oliver Grabowski, and with recent addition Paddy Carley on drums, they’ve had the time to explore the nuances in their songwriting and performance, and to develop and twist out of shape the normal strictures of the format. Most significantly we see an unfolding understanding of the dynamics of change, both personally and musically, that sometimes we need to slow down in order to go faster.

This changing landscape is reflected lyrically, “Could I be someone like you, real like you, could I be moved to be”,  speaks to the desire to come of age and face the challenges of finding your place in the wider world. This continues in ‘I’m Not A Man; I Never Will Be’ where over quick slow dynamics and diverging guitar lines combine with deconstructed fragments and shapes, and Jon dwells on recognition and the resistance of the pressure to conform, to follow, to repeat failures of the past. “Tried to resist, I’ll be him soon, too soon”.

Which is not to say this is all morbid introspection and they’ve lost their hardcore mojo:  ‘A Certain Pleasure’ and ‘Black Water’ are a curation of the best parts of Landspeed era Husker Du, the Minutemen’s acoustic interludes, Black Flags angular obstinacy, and Sonic Youth’s raw joy of guitar power. ‘Natural Vision’ and ‘From Safer Place’ are further highlights and show Fawn Spots at their immediate best with their anxious urgency, tension and release, call and response choruses. These songs are explosive live, but demand repeated listening to catch the nuances of the recorded work and the depth of thought behind the lyrics.

Fawn Spots are at the blurred lines of adaptation, and they are facing the challenges of how to stay connected to their past but become independent of it, both musically and personally, and how to find appropriate responses to the new world. They are on a journey from security to exploration, and hauling us along with them. At the speed they travel, they may well have already outgrown this album. Catch up while you still can.

Release Date 09/03/2015 (Critical Heights)
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