Reviews Fiancé Please, Ambitious, Please

Fiancé

Please, Ambitious, Please

Denver-based quartet Fiancé has put forth a pretty catchy follow-up to 2007’s, The Girl From the Ivory Coast.

With 2008’s Please, Ambitious, Please, Patrick Maguire (vocals, piano), Michael James (guitar), Tyler Reschke (bass) and Chris Sturniolo (drums) have produced a compelling little offering. The instrumentation is beautiful and quirky, and ultimately provides a satisfying listen. At times the lyrics are a little too much for my taste - reaching a bit too far to capture the simple poignancy they’re so clearly striving to clasp in a meaningful embrace. That said, there are moments of total brilliance to delight in. It has been some time since I first put this disc in rotation, and increasingly, the melodies and lyrical fragments drift into my mind when least expected - Fiancé have some definite staying power.

First track "Super-Soft Knife" gets off to a great start; the piano is an exceptionally appealing component. There’s a strange clipped childish quality to the vocal delivery in this track, but all told, it’s a wicked catchy intro that made me want to hear more. I can’t lie - it felt a bit awkward being back in high school (it was probably the reference to wearing black to the Prom that did this), even moreso as I began to wonder what a dude who might be thirty is doing, musing about this. There’s method, here, though: while some elements are more successful than others, Fiancé flirt with knowing exactly when to draw the line. There’s not much time to indulge in high school reminisces, before we’re ushered into the next installment.

"Pretty Model Hands" is somewhat overwrought at seven-plus minutes - at times, it’s threatened by its own sprawling development. The chorus is arguably the weakest part of the song, but nestled as it is amongst simple, evocative verses, this ceases to matter after the second listen. Addressing the crippling insecurities and paralyzes of the newly adult in a dreamy and drawn out fashion, the song showcases some of the album’s prettiest passages.

"Twenty-Something" has a sad, unwound quality to. There’s a strained disjuncture to some of the vocals that has to have been intentional, and ultimately it’s remarkably effective at capturing that delicate balance between barely capable grown-up and petulant child. When Maguire sings about “Amy’s friends” all thinking his protagonist is “full of shit,” it’s abundantly clear that they’re right. What is key to keeping the listener’s attention is that it doesn’t make the plight any less sad or prevent one from relating to the tale. Ultimately it adds a pretty interesting twist to it all - you don’t even have to like this sad wimpy dude, whining about love lost in order to envision his childish lip stuck out in protest as he tries to drown his sorrows. The song is an effective portrait of failure to deal, and of the impulse to run away instead. And it's perfectly structured, with a last controlled but frantic burst of musical momentum at the end—a last chance to rally and perhaps even cut loose, even though we’re already committed to the path of resignation.

Salvaged from spreading depths of contemplation and confusion by the fickle buoyancy of youth and young adulthood, the fourth track "I Don’t Want You Anymore' restores us all to the realm of up-tempo, reckless energy showcased in the first track. A timely intervention, indeed.

The last song, "Quiet Things," is perhaps the least appealing; a bit limp and tending to drift, one suspects it was bit more satisfying to write than to listen to. It’s not really my thing, personally, but you know what? It actually doesn’t compromise anything, because I just want to double back to the first track, anyway. These songs come together as snapshots butting up against each other in a larger coming-of-age study. And overall, it really works.

There’s a lot of potential here, and at this stage, a five-track EP was plenty - it was the right place to stop this particular project. Please, Ambitious, Please is insightful and arresting in parts, and intriguing enough to withstand repeated listens. The band’s website suggests they’re in the process of putting together a full-length album, and it’s undoubtedly something to look forward to.

7.0 / 10Kristin
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