The Faim – ‘State Of Mind’

By Gem Rogers

When The Faim first appeared on UK shores a year and a half ago, they had just two songs to their name – Panic! At The Disco-esque anthem ‘Saints Of The Sinners’, and poppy hit ‘Midland Line’. It didn’t stop the Australians making a considerable impact as they spent the next month opening for Lower Than Atlantis, and it was less than a year before they were headlining a UK tour of their own on the back of debut EP ‘Summer Is A Curse’.

A debut full length from this four, then, feels more than overdue by this point; an opportunity not only to finally pull together everything we’ve heard from them in the last 18 months, but to see what else they are capable of. ‘State Of Mind’ aims to do exactly that, as it brings a few familiar tracks in alongside a swathe of brand new music to kick start the next phase of The Faim’s journey.

Based on previous output, it would be easy to assume that ‘State Of Mind’ would simply continue a trend of poppy, catchy chorus packed alt rock – and, true enough, there’s plenty of that here. As opener ‘Tongue Tied’ snakes in with its dirty, distorted guitar and pulsing beat, though, it’s clear that The Faim have plenty more tricks up their sleeve, and they’re not afraid to show it. One of their darkest and heaviest tracks to date, it’s a powerful start that suits them well and leads joyfully into stadium-sized pop rock in the form of recent release ‘Humans’, and the returning, hugely successful 2018 single ‘Summer Is A Curse’.

With many of these songs having made appearances in live sets over the last year or so, ‘State Of Mind’ has a comforting feeling of familiarity, but there’s no less weight in the handful of tracks that are making their first appearances. After latest single ‘Beautiful Drama’ – a surprising, 90s pop-infused track that sounds like it could’ve come from a different band and album altogether – ‘Buying Time’ couples perfectly with older favourite ‘Infamous’ for a sublime high point in the middle of the album; there’s hints of Fall Out Boy in the rocky punch of the former, while the chorus of ‘Infamous’ is nothing short of gigantic, juxtaposing a bold bassline with summery, jubilant riffs.

This is an album that screams fun; with hooks, variety, and impossibly infectious choruses in abundance, ‘State Of Mind’ is exactly the kind of record you put on when you need to dance and sing, and you need to do it now. It’s the final few songs that really hit home, though, and see the band at their most open and vulnerable. Penultimate track ‘Where The River Runs’ is a showcase of the strength of front man Josh Raven’s vocals as he tells a haunting and deeply personal story – it’s a real shame that an almost robotic female vocal has been added here, offering little more than a jarring distraction from the gentle beauty of this song. Following this is closer and title track ‘State Of Mind’, and it’s one of the band’s strongest songs to date; Raven’s subtle growls complement the thundering final chorus and delicate, piano-led middle eight, with all four musicians having a clear moment to shine during its near five minute run-time.

When it comes to the music, there are really no low points to be found, with each track providing memorable and enjoyable moments – that said, there is unfortunately a similarly heavy-handed approach to the production as afflicted their debut EP last year, and it has an uncomfortable impact on the overall sound. In what appears to be an attempt to make the album as appealing and clean as possible, much of the natural personality of the songs is lost and they feel almost muted – it neither suits the band, nor does them any justice, and it’s incredibly frustrating. Strip back that gloss, and you’d have an album bursting with raw talent and honesty that would be a far truer showcase of The Faim’s abilities.

Despite the drawback of questionable production, it’s easy enough to listen beyond it and be rewarded with a varied album full of spirit and life. Given time, this is a band that could reach incredible heights, and it’s an astounding collection of songs from a group so young; if they are able to continue down a path unbound by expectation and genre (and overproduction), there are sure to be exciting things in store. As it is, ‘State of Mind’ is unquestionably one of the most outstanding debut albums of the year – The Faim have a spark that is about to ignite into the brightest of flames, and this is only the beginning.

GEM ROGERS

Three more album reviews for you

Alter Bridge - 'Walk The Sky'

LIVE: Sleep Token @ The Underworld, Camden

LIVE: Mallory Knox / Led By Lanterns @ Gorilla, Manchester