It’s a weird thing that happens amongst music fans and, to an even worse extent, music bloggers. We find bands we like, and with each release after we fall for them, we get more and more sure that this will be the album they fuck it all up on. Maybe we’re a culture of mistrust, maybe we’re jaded, or maybe we’re all just assholes, but I see it in our scene (and others) every time I get into music conversations. Mind you, I don’t type this with a wagging finger. I am as guilty, if not moreso, than any of y’all. Which brings us to Fiction, Fact or Folktale?.
Now, a moment of disclosure. I know the Have Gun guys. Very well. We live in the same Tampa Bay area. We see one another out a lot. We share drunken and sober hugs. That said, I didn’t know them when I started writing about them here on 9b and I don’t think a bad review on a mediocre blog would act as any sort of speedbump on their road to wherever they are going in their career.
Now, where were we? Oh yes! The ‘these guys can’t continue on this trajectory’ line of thought. They have to fuck up at some point, right? Including Fiction, Fact or Folktale?, HGWT has released 4 albums as a full band. The first, Casting Shadows Tall As Giants, was a ridiculously high water mark, but the band had managed to top it with each subsequent release. At some point there has to be a regression to the means, right?
Color me an asshole, ‘cause I do believe that, but I can say that the regression is not happening with Fiction, Fact or Folktale?. An album that finds the band as tight as ever, the instrumentation more experimental than any other release and a set of 10 songs that really showcase Have Gun’s trademark of powerful songs with a surprisingly delicate sound.
I offer the album’s closer, “Take Me Home Alice”, as a shining example of the power/fragility dichotomy. Nothing about this song’s music is powerful. Hell, it’s restrained and yielding, but beautiful. You’ll notice it long before you notice a lyric in the song beyond the chorus and that’s why “Take Me Home Alice” won’t be your favorite song on the album the first time you listen to it. Like gumbo, it takes time. A few spins through the album, then you’ll hear the song. The forest instead of the tree. Then you’ll see how well put together the song actually is. Like a complex food dish, it all works together. Nothing can be removed. Nothing is overdone.
And that is what Fact, Fiction or Folktale? is. It’s a well-balanced, incredibly complex and mature album from a group of guys I happen to know personally, but would love their music all the same if they lived in Fargo, North Dakota.
Needless to say, this shit is Essential Listening.
The band is currently on tour. You can catch them in these cities: