Fiction Family Reunion Cover ArtNo dysfunction in this family – Switchfoot's Foreman and Nickel Creek's Watkins have a Fiction Family Reunion and do it even better than the first time!

Fiction Family Reunion
Artist: Fiction Family
Rock Ridge Music
Time: 10 tracks / 36:38

Sounding less like a side-project and much more like a band, Fiction Family's new album, appropriately titled Fiction Family Reunion, breaks the sophomore curse and provides solid indie-pop music from start to finish. Headed up by Switchfoot front-man Jon Foreman and Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins, Fiction Family creates a voice of its own, firmly footed in a post-sixties pop ambiance and packed with meaningful, introspective (but never maudlin) lyrics – the kind of songs that reach you somewhere inside but make you smile at the same time. The debut album was fine but Fiction Family Reunion is more memorable, more energetic, and has twice as many hooks.

That the very distinctive vocal delivery of Jon Foreman doesn't automatically scream 'Switchfoot' to the listener, is a tribute to Fiction Family's quick coming of age in the space of just two albums. The delivery of the songs has that matter-of-fact quality that bands like The Beatles had – no histrionics, no impassioned crying out, no shoe-gazing. This is not to say that the songs don't have their own fair share of gravitas – they do. In fact, songs like "Damaged" touch on some pretty heavy personal issues: "read the inside and you'll find some rotten boards, so i paint the outside with only major chords / and i won't lie, but i'll hide things in the basement down below, cause i am damaged and i don't want you to know..."

In the sonically MuteMath-like "God Badge," Foreman addresses a sometimes too-condemning church: "Put your godbadge down, And love someone / Put your godbadge down, And love someone," he sings, "Let it free your soul / the world never was and never will be in your control / Put your godbadge down, And love someone..." Don't let this fool you into thinking that this album isn't a lot of fun – it's essentially a good-feeling pop record. As a matter of fact, "Just Rob Me," is a banjo pickin' dysfunctional country love song, "Give Me Back My Girl," starts out with hand-claps and ends up rocking furiously, and the delightful "Reality Calls," is an old-timey, jazzy little Music Hall number complete with whistling and wryly observant lyrics like, "reality calls, and I just let it ring / in the middle of Fall, I'm still dressed for Spring / my voice is gone, and I'm still trying to sing / reality calls and I just let it ring..."

The family has grown, and now officially includes bassist Tyler Chester and drummer Aaron Redfield - Chester's bass playing is solid and understated, but well able to rock when called for, and Redfield has a wonderfully Ringo-esque quality to his drumming that will be a delight to any Beatles fan – or, for that matter, anyone that can appreciate the value of articulate, well thought-out drumming over machine-like time keeping. Adding a bit of fiddle is Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins and the ubiquitous John Painter contributes horns.

If Fiction Family Reunion is any indication (and of course it is), the upcoming tour (you can see the schedule at ) promises to be something refreshing and memorable. The particular joy inherent in all really good pop music is obvious on this album, and you can almost imagine the good vibe that must have filled Switchfoot's Spot X studio, where it was recorded.

Finally, people will no-doubt be trying to figure out who "Fool's Gold" is written for. The answer to that one might have to remain hidden in the ashes of rock & roll...

-Bert Saraco


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