[sic] Magazine

The Fake Boys – I Love My Life When You’re Around

On their latest album, I Love My Life When You’re Around, Massachusetts’ The Fake Boys prove just how hard it is to be a band. Some distance from their trad-American punk roots, they don’t get much wrong with a newer collection of ambitious heavy rock, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re getting it right. So, you have to ask, were the boys being fake prior to I Love My Life … or are they pretending now? The better credibility of their early material and the way Jim Domenici’s vocal now sits so uneasily throughout the album suggests the latter.

On case in point, “Wormy”, for example, Domenici simply tries to hard, dragging out vowel sounds theatrically when a natural snarl would be better. Musically, meanwhile, the track’s heavy haze of guitars is mediocre, 80s metal meets Meat Loaf. Choppy fuzz-tones are more usual on the album, however, peels of feedback and kosmiche whooshes landing a succession of competent heavy 90s alt elsewhere. Naturally, the running order thus swaggers with riffs and growling chug, muscular indie masquerading as grunge-punk. This may sound like it’s up your street, but not only do The Fake Boys somehow largely pick each of their borrows from movements that are out of fashion, they also contrive to pick the least fashionable time and time again. By all means go full grunge. Exorcise your nastiest punk hero too. But don’t forget to channel some proper aggression, or hooks, and don’t make your tempo switch-ups as obvious as a boy band’s key change.

There is a market for I Love My Life When You’re Around, but it’s a small one. It’s for those that love guitars, have heard nothing since the late 90s and are not averse to “woah oh oh” choruses. Right on cue, and despite being beyond cliché, “Thick Pop” does a pretty good job of describing itself and, when it’s not gargling razor blades, it comes on like heavy form of Britpop. Wildly over-emotive, Domenici ruins the droney, low-end shoegaze dirge “Wet Mutt”, though, the track ending with a cacophony of unforgivable cock rock that brings to mind the worst excesses of late-era The Smashing Pumpkins. Then there’s “Sick Mostly”, an unlikable exercise in acoustic balladeering. The lighters may be out in the stadiums of The Fake Boys’ minds, but this is truly nauseating stuff as is the naff rinky dink of “OK, I’m Up”. These are tracks that leave such a bad taste in the mouth that they sour even the small parts of the album that could be salvaged. It really isn’t as easy as it looks.

~I Love My Life When You’re Around is released January 13th 2017 via Animal Style Records.~