The Genuine Fakes are four guys from Sweden who share a love of skinny ties, moustaches, classic power pop and 90s indie-rock. In 2008 they were featured on ‘Beautiful Escape: The Songs of The Posies Revisited’, a sprawling triple-disc Posies tribute album containing a whole bunch of artistes you’ve likely never heard of, bar Ken Stringfellow, Joe Skyward and Jon Auer (that’s not at all arrogant to contribute tracks to a tribute release for your own band, is it chaps? [/sarchasm]).
For their debut full-length ‘The Striped Album’, The Genuine Fakes have created something which fuses that love of The Posies with Fountains of Wayne and a touch of Weezer, ensuring a listen which is not short on memorable hooks.
After an intro name-checking the band (an approach which reminded me of Mike Viola’s release with The Major Labels, at least in concept if not delivery), ‘The Promise’ lays most of The Genuine Fakes’ cards on the table straight away. The guitars create a wall of sound which is very Posies influenced; during the verses, Joey Fake’s crystal clear, slightly sugary vocal gets time in the spotlight, coupled with Morty Fake’s lively bass. If there’s anything which sets The Genuine Fakes apart from their similar sounding influences and contemporaries here, it’s the accompaniment from Tommy Fake, whose organ work has a slightly old fashioned quality. ‘Something New’ follows suit featuring huge jangly guitars, upfront bass and slabs of organ. Under a busy arrangement, it’s worth keeping a close ear on Morty – his bass work is very intricate, providing The Genuine Fakes with a necessary quirkiness under their otherwise fairly unrelenting wall of sound approach.
‘When Reality Hits You’ is a little simpler. A big drum sound drum sound drives the verses, but it’s the hooky chorus which aims to pull you in with multi-layered backing vocals which occasionally hint at ELO (never fashionable, I know, but power pop wouldn’t be the same without them!). Vocally, the call and response style chorus of ‘I Don’t Want It’ provides a standout moment – it certainly highlights the band’s knack for hooks, even if their arrangements can be a little full on.
After a typically crashy intro, ‘C’mon Linda’ has a spiky quality where Johnny Fake’s drumming is uncomplicated, but works well against Joey’s accompanying chords. The verses, in this respect, seem quite spacious compared to some of the band’s material, but once with multi-tracked rhythm guitars kick in on the chorus and bridge sections, they revert back to their not-so-subtle approach. As you may expect, the end result is still rather more Posies-meets-Weezer than Jellyfish or Silver Sun, but it’s certainly one of the band’s best numbers. The sugary qualities and unashamed woo-hoo’s present throughout ‘Star’ really drive home the classic power pop influences in The Genuine Fakes’ sound. The chorus harmonies are tight, the drums are solid (occasionally the cymbals are a little overdone, but there are enough layers and hooks here to distract you from those) and the swirls of keyboards have a sense of urgency.
‘Whatever Comes Your Way’ – the six minute epic which closes the album – captures The Genuine Fakes in a slightly more restrained mood. The jangly elements are still up front, but it’s all a little more relaxed (at least to begin with). For the closing instrumental part of the song, the crashing cymbals make their timely return, coupled with chiming guitars and another slab of organ (For those paying attention, you’ll spot this as being the same piece of music which provides ‘The Genuine Fakes’ intro). If there’s a slight downside to ‘The Striped Album’, it would be the lack of variety within the material – most of it comes at full pelt with little respite from the chiming guitars and crashing drums. However, listening to each song individually, there are absolutely no weak numbers here.
If the promise of catchy hooks thrown against a wall of sound is just not enough for you, ‘The Striped Album’ also includes a brilliant cover tune: Beyoncé’s ‘Irreplaceable’ appears in a great power pop arrangement. Morty Fake’s bouncy, upfront bassline provides a musical high point, while the vocals on the chorus are superb, making for a very infectious performance – and one which runs rings around the empty, mechanical approach of the original.
If you’re a fan of Fountains of Wayne, The Posies, ‘Be a Girl and ‘Bagsy Me’ era Wannadies or other similar types of jangly pop/rock, check out The Genuine Fakes – despite its lack of subtleties, ‘The Striped Album’ should appeal.