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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Bellefontaine Avenue
Doghouse Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

October 1, 2004
The Swiss gents of Favez have released another solid, if not incredibly memorable or unique, album. Bellefontaine Avenue, their fourth in the US, manages to be a good rock album with a touch of punk and some excellent pop sensibilities.

Favez is good at writing rock songs that require a little dancing, then get sweet and swell and explode and cry. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Wicky has a powerful delivery that is broad and unassuming, allowing him to soft out a ballad - like "The System," about a fighter who gets sucked in by fame and becomes ashamed of himself - or rough through a hard-rocker like the "Battle Weary Blues." On top of the three guitars, a bass, and drums, Wicky's vocals soar on tracks like "Battle Weary Blues" and "Times Were High." Favez always sounds polished, but scream out with just enough emotion that a listener will get caught on the cusp of his breakdown.

The instrumentation is also very polished, par for Favez. The band steps forward and back, almost like a jazz band, taking turns as the main focus of a song and then throwing it all together. And when Favez throws together a song on an album it never sounds bad - there is not a bad track on all of Bellefontaine Avenue. Although there are some hokey moments - the 80s guitar "hot lick" in "Heavy Metal 10" comes to mind - and some less than inspired playing, their work is solid. Their biggest problem is that Favez has the potential to write great songs, but they never seem to give themselves permission. They stick to their format - which they're damn good at - and kind of hug the status quo "Adult Contemporary" rock far too often.

On Bellefontaine Avenue Favez has a few really great songs - the opener "Emmanuel Hall" which has a great bar room story feel to it, "Battle Weary Blues" and the punkish "The Killer Show" - but they fall short of amazing. The rest of the album, while strong, feels interchangeable with a lot of bands and a lot like their previous two albums. It is definitely a good album which gets better with multiple listens, but it is not unique enough and there is, unfortunately, no solution for that.

Bellefontaine Avenue is Favez's best album to date, but it might be the peak of their ability. While that is way beyond a lot of people's mark, the band might not have any place to go unless they find the special pixie dust to make them the amazing breakout stars they could be.

Reviewed by Mike Hammer

See other reviews by Mike Hammer



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