After a nine year silence, electroclash iconoclasts Fischerspooner have returned to the dancefloor with their fourth studio album, ‘Sir’.
From humble beginnings of performing at a Starbucks in Manhattan in 1998, Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner have seized two decades by the throat to become the idiosyncratic princes of electronic music, influencing numerous artists with their sultry vocals and the boundless, slithering beauty of their music. One artist to notice the pair’s star quality was R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, who took the role of producer for ‘Sir’ and, in Spooner’s own words, “mentor”:
‘Michael Stipe encouraged me to be more emotionally connected and to trust my voice,’ says Casey. ‘He also fought for a more raw vocal in the final production. He taught me new ways of creating melody and lyric. He was more than a producer. He was a mentor and a great friend who guided me through troubled times and captured my experience. He lifted me up at my lowest. This album is a document of that experience.’
Coming from a markedly personal and emotionally fraught place in Spooner’s life, the difference between 2009’s ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Sir’ is stark from the beginning, with kick-off track ‘Stranger Strange’. The stilted beats and a voice that pleas, “please respond”, the song creates images of a dystopian nightlife where everyone goes home with the wrong person, but they all write the most beautiful poetry about it – a theme that permeates the entire album.
Second track and standout belter, ‘TopBrazil’, follows in the same vein but with a catchier pop sound, which does its damnedest to make the world get up and dance in ways never thought possible. The almost siren-like call of Spooner’s voice has an embrace in this song that almost breaches common decency, succumbing to the fact that there is no escape, no reprieve from the shackles he’s consented to be locked in.
If ‘TopBrazil’ is the club, then ‘Togetherness’ is the long walk home as the sun rises. Featuring primal co-vocals from Caroline Polachek (of Chairlift and Beyoncé’s ‘No Angel’ fame), there is an undercurrent of bliss – albeit a brief one – that becomes almost ethereal, accentuated by the duo’s contrasting vocal styles.
Another Beyoncé songwriter comes to the fray in ‘Everything Is Just Alright’, ‘Have Fun Tonight’ and ‘I Need Love’, with BOOTS (aka Jordan Asher) handling additional production duties. Asher’s production brings a sense of urgency to the music here, leaving everything feeling a whole lot dirtier and thrusting Spooner’s unbridled sexuality to the forefront. However, there is still a sense of the bruised love and tenderness that keeps the record together, with a vocal that declares: “We come together sweetly/ I want to hold you near/ now go have fun without me/ you know that I’ll be here”.
Over the next couple of tracks, there is an echo of 2001’s ‘#1’ record to be heard within, with ‘Strut’ and ‘Get It On’ feeling eerily reminiscent of ‘Sweetness’ and ‘L.A. Song’. The theatrical side of Fischerspooner’s project comes centre stage here, as Casey Spooner almost soliloquises as he bounds through Warren Fischer’s melodic jungle of industrial music.
The last quarter of ‘Sir’ brings a whole host of other collaborations that round off the album nicely, particularly ‘Butterscotch Goddam’ and ‘Dark Pink’ featuring Johnny Magee, misty-eyed R&B style songs that encapsulate ‘Sir’ – brooding and jilting pieces of art that ramps up the heat of the moment.
Despite their extended hiatus, Fischerspooner have shown that they haven’t missed a step and will continue to remain relevant, unabashed and exciting for many years to come.
‘Sir’ is out on the 16th February 2018 via Ultra Music
Togetherness ft. Caroline Polachek
Everything Is Just Alright
Have Fun Tonight
Get It On
I Need Love
Butterscotch Goddam ft. Johnny Magee
Try Again ft. Andy LeMaster
Oh Rio ft. Holly Miranda