Favez – A Sad Ride on the Line Again

A Sad Ride on the Line Again

I remember when everyone thought Radiohead were going to be a one-hit wonder with “Creep.” Well, all of a sudden they’re the world’s biggest stars. And now everyone is saying this band or that band is the “next Radiohead,” or the “American Radiohead.” Well, if anyone should be high on that list, I say put Favez there. But only if you don’t mean it derogatorily. Because I haven’t heard an album that struck me so deep, that I liked so passionately at first listen as Favez’s A Sad Ride on the Line Again.
Favez is not your typical Doghouse Records band, and the label admits that themselves in the material that come with it. But I’m just glad someone released it. Favez is from Switzerland, but the singer has an American mother and doesn’t sound foreign at all. Apparently, the band wanted to record a slow and depressing album, and to get the sound right, they recorded in a mobile studio in a church (you can even hear the church bells in one song).
“Twenty Years of Anything” is just beautiful, a single voice and a single, sparsely-played acoustic guitar. This is about as minimalistic as you can get, and it’s so damn touching it hurts! Think stripped-down Red House Painters on some of their stripped-down songs. “The Man with Forehead Eyes” brings in the guitars and soft drum beats. It’s slow and pretty, with acoustic guitar strummings and intensely passionate vocals. “These days, these days all I do is just walk in a haze,” Wicky sings, and I find myself in a haze listening to this song. “Between the Dirty Halls” has a strong drum beat and incorporates more instruments, perhaps an accordion and strings. Oh, this isn’t Radiohead, folks. This is beautiful. “This is How it Ends” is so quiet and sweet, and the vocals are breathy, almost intimately whispered at times. On “Friday Morning,” it’s just Wicky’s voice and an acoustic guitar again, a little more upbeat than the first track but every bit as soft and heartfelt. I don’t get the sense of depression, as the band claims, from lines like “this time I’ll do it right.” The accordion sound (perhaps it’s keyboards, hard to tell) are back on the amazing “Bleak,” probably my favorite track on the whole album. The vocals are so pretty here, sort of a cross between the aforementioned York and Michael Stipe. “You’re only happy when you close your eyes,” Wicky sings on “Psychiatric Interference.” Each of these songs is lovely in a way that just doesn’t grow old.
This is an entire album of slower, intricate and touching rock songs. Think Radiohead in their softer moments, because the comparison is going to be made. The singer of Favez, Chris Wicky, even sounds similar to Radiohead’s Thom York. But, to me at least, this doesn’t sound like a rip-off band. These guys play really pretty music of the style that Low or Idaho play, perhaps not quite so stripped down and simple typically. But the lyrics and vocals. Damn, this is good. I can listen to this and let my mind wander, just gazing out the window. I’m visibly moved here, folks. Favez is recording their next album in the states with Producer John Agnello, and it’s going to be huge, I’m sure.