Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Fischerspooner -- Odyssey
Capitol; 2005

Fischerspooner is a joke that is meant to be understood and appreciated for being a joke; and this is what makes them a serious group. Even if the band's carefully choreographed live shows are full of schtick, it's serious business for the performers.

The one area of the Fischerspooner collective that is still ambiguous with regards to its "seriousness" is the music. Its debut album #1 was both slick and simple, relying on just enough hooks to make the otherwise elementary electro tunes work; and for its work (or possible lack thereof) the band yielded a hit with "Emerge." The joke was widely appreciated, but not for being a joke.

But what happens when Casey Fischer and Warren Spooner put on somber faces and give music a more dead-pan try? The answer can be found in the twelve tracks of Odyssey, Fischerspooner's sophomore album.

The most noticeable difference between the two albums is the addition of a little thing called rock and roll. On top of the signature neon-lit synth bloops are neatly chopped up guitar lines; below are (gasp) organic drums! The tunes gain a bit of pep from their additions and retain their electro style, with Spooner's icy and digitized voice still at the helm.

What wounds Odyssey is just how serious the creative duo takes their task; essentially, they suck out all the fun. Tracks like "Ritz 107" and "Everything to Gain" are nuanced but rather dull. The predictable "We Need a War" gains little from guest lyricist, the late Susan Sontag. Many of the songs (with the notable exception of "Just Let Go," which is quite good) just lack the zest that would allow listeners to let their proverbial hair down and just dance or smile. Is a joke still a joke if it takes itself too seriously? Not in the way Fischerspooner intended to be. Lighten up, dogs!

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