Album Review: Fake Babies – We Started Blues

Fake Babies
We Started Blues
Safety Meeting Records

If you Google “Fake Babies” you find very little about the band, and a lot about a subculture I was unaware of: people who collect and play with creepily realistic life-size newborn baby dolls. Fake Babies (the band) has nothing to do with those, and We Started Blues has nothing to do with the Blues idiom. So they seem to like misdirection.

They also like synthesizers and crunchy sampled drum sounds, they have at least two singers and they frequently combine falsetto counterpoint vocals behind the lead vocalist. I presume they perform live, but songs like “Get Loved” would not exist except for the possibilities of computer multitracking. On “LA” the lead vocalist seems to be channelling Ian Curtis over a nervous beat and clattery synth squiggles, later joined by a multitracked choir. “Reprise” has some silly falsetto vocalese interludes, indistinct squalls of guitar noise and perhaps the most over-the-top use of vocal effects I’ve heard in recent years.

The only consistent attribute of We Started Blues is the oblique, absurd humor that imbues both the vocals and the busy, occasionally chaotic instrumental arrangements. Sometimes you think Brian Wilson, sometimes Captain Beefheart, sometimes Wierd Al Yankovic, and sometimes all three at the same time. That’s rather a lot for a listener to take on board. Fake Babies is willing to risk confusing the audience with their multi-layered wackiness. But they don’t sound like anyone else, really, so even though I’m not sure I always like what they’re doing, I hope they keep doing it.