[sic] Magazine

The Fashion Focus – The World Outside

Everything changes.
But some things never change.

We live in an exciting time for music. We always have. That’s the nature of this particular art form. While it is normal to look back to the music of our formative years and claim that to be the greatest era, a wider perspective will reap a greater reward. We should be wary of falling into the trap of decrying today’s scene. Certainly the soundtracks of our adolescence will resonate forever, but already we’re cherry picking. My own first love was the new wave and post-punk era. Yet, if I’m honest, for every gem there were a hundred over-polished turds. The Smiths, to give one example, arrived at a time of bloated, overproduced synth-pop, the arse-end of new romantic and the beginning of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Keep a perspective. What I love about today’s music scene is the sense that almost anything goes. We have a coexistence of innovative, ‘new’ music, old music and new stuff that draws upon older influences. I like this approach. When you add technologies into the mix you begin to be confined only by the limits of your own imagination. I think that is a very healthy jumping off point.

I also think Brian Young would agree with me. California-based Young is the guitarist and multi-instrumentalist behind The Fashion Focus. As featured in our First Glances article I would hazard a guess Young’s influences come from 80s and 90s alternative music too. The World Outside is a short (I’d say mini) album of glistening, dream(y) pop. Its seven tracks and 28 minutes blend real guitar work with modern day electronics. Yes, there is a hint of shoegaze here, but this isn’t the full on homage of an Ulrich Schnauss or Manual. Nor is this your de rigueur IDM act doing the ‘laptop Mogwai’, (sounding like The Cure) thing. I’d liken The Fashion Focus more to somebody like 800Beloved. Just like Sean Lynch’s albums, The World Outside couldn’t have been made in the 80s, but sure reminds you of that time. Tracks like the bleepy ‘Here With Me’ recall OMD, while personal favourite, ‘Perfect Memory’, hits like New Order covering ‘Melt With You’. This vibe is also captured on the title track. Indeed the aforementioned three put the meat in the sandwich with this record. Outside of this, things are a little dreamier. ‘September’ is the perfect example with its Cocteau Twins shimmer and psyched out vocals. Young the singer favours a Steve Kilbey purr.

Overall The World Outside feels fresh even in today’s ‘anything goes’ world. It is worth checking out for its major set pieces alone. As an album, it does feel ‘mini’ to me. This is purely sematic. Had he called it an EP I might have written about a “generous and varied showcase”. As it is, the track ‘Unique’ works fine as the perfunctory climactic album closer, but the journey itself feels truncated.

I’m left wanting more. Maybe that was the whole point.

First Glances