[sic] Magazine

Film School – Fission

Me and Film School go back a long way. Their self-titled album was my first ever review piece and I’ve followed the band since then. Their music is somewhat difficult to get a fix on though. They’re a bit of a moving target. 2007’s Hideout was a masterpiece of tension and understated grandeur, whilst its predecessor Film School felt more like a West Coast take on The Cure , meets Pavement , meets Gang Of Four . Always interesting, tough to pin down, I couldn’t wait to hear Fission and see where the 2010 model Film School are headed.

Right away Fission delivers with the poppy ‘Heart Full Of Pentagons’. ‘Lead’ singer Greg Bertens is now aided on vocal duties by new recruit, and wonderfully named bassist Lorelei Plotczyk . This helps push Fission in a more shoegazer direction. ‘Waited’ is a terrific example of this, with House Of Love reverberated guitars and boy/girl duet. It’s clear that Film School have taken a lighter direction this time around. The ringing ‘Direct’ is possibly the track that sounds most like old school Film School with drone leanings and an emphasis on rhythm. Yet even ‘Direct’ is less dark and brooding than past incarnations. I’m not overly surprised. Film School have always been able to do ‘tunes’ as Hideout’s ‘Two Sides’ can vouch for. They didn’t tend to make whole albums this accessible though.

As the album nears its end it reveals even more pedal pop. ‘Sunny Day’ hurls us back in time to the late 80’s when C86 was morphing into shoegaze. Lush would have sold their soul for something this good. ’Still Might’ is majestic. I love the bass on this one and the sweeping keys near the conclusion. The closing duo of ‘Nothings Mine’ and ‘Find You Out’ are perfection plasticized.

Fission is a fine addition to the Film School canon. The addition of shared vocal duties might prove to be the bands masterstroke. As much as I liked Bertens croaky urgings I always thought Film School found it difficult to sustain a full album. With Plotczyk, it’s like flicking on a light. Suddenly everything is clear. It gives them a whole new aspect, keeps the album fresh and interesting throughout. Crucially though, it isn’t either/or. That light can still be extinguished. Bertens can frame his songs with whatever mood he fancies and I no longer have to make myself Film School playlists. Fission does a fine job by itself.