Steven Faulkner – Love. Fury. Remorse. Vengeance. – EP Review
Pardon my language, I just hit the insatiably awesome crunch that comes in around the ninety-second of the opening cut called “The Man You Deserve” on Steven Faulkner’s latest Love. Fury. Remorse. Vengeance. EP – it’s the kind of sound that makes such a savage impact that, were I more of a professional & more polite as a man overall that was somehow willing to spare ya the full details, I wouldn’t have to confess this very first song & the subsequent set-list to follow gives me a rock-solid chubby of pure happiness…but alas, here we are.
Steven Faulkner gives me one of the best problems to have as a music journalist…which is he threatens my credibility with anyone out there that isn’t paying complete attention. You see folks – I don’t just pop in to tell ya someone’s putting out their best work each & every time when I review music by the same artist or band…unless of course, it happens to be true. On paper, I get it, believe me – it LOOKS suspicious right? Can someone ALWAYS be putting out their best music every time they put out something new? Well dear readers, dear friends…in the world according to so many of the musicians I’ve talked to throughout the years…there’s actually really no other way to go about it for the truly dedicated to the art. I’ve always said that, whether or not it’s TRUE that it’s the best in a catalog so far, that YOU as musicians should at the very least, hopefully always feel that way at the time a record or new song comes out…I’m just also saying it’s nice to hear the theory in action as indisputably as this is. From his early days as Jigsaw Man, to the more recent cuts we’ve reviewed by Steven Faulkner under his own name – each step forward has been a noticeable step in his evolution as an artist and has shown us remarkable growth between every release. It only makes sense that he’d always come back with a new highlight to share…the adventurously creative spirit that he is…I mean…Steven’s always revealed so much personality in his music that it’s been radiantly apparent from day one it would lead him to great things. To be quite honest, I don’t think he’s ever made a bad record – he just makes better ones now.
In short, this is “The Man You Deserve” – and thusly, the EP begins.
As its title implies, you get a serious range of emotions throughout these four tunes…and fair to say they’re likely intended to follow the pattern you’ll see outlined in Love.Fury.Remorse.Vengeance as each song plays and expresses an aspect of that overall concept sonically. This are…cautiously optimistic at the very beginning as “The Man You Deserve” starts out…noticeably drawing deep on a Radiohead-esque influence that’s like a brilliant combination of cuts like the dreary lullaby of “No Surprises” and the severe bite that a track like “My Iron Lung” has once that immaculate crunch comes in to reign supreme. Steven’s from the UK, so it’s cool, relax…a Radiohead influence is bound to show up…and dammit, my life would sure be a hell of a lot more awesome theoretically if we all just had that innate quality ANYHOW – so you better believe it’s cool with me to be able to identify that as clearly as you can here. “The Man You Deserve” is absolutely no kind of copy, rip-off, or watered-down version of what I’ve compared it to – Steven’s rockin’ his own thing here without question…you can glean pieces of influences from music he likely loves & listens to himself, but in context of the overall composition, structure, and final results, this is 100% all him, and he sounds freakin’ FANTASTIC. Through the gentle melodic & hazy sway of the opening ninety seconds, he manages to make a massive impact with what’s essentially a very faded set of vibes that makes it sound like he could almost nod right off at any moment…and while that sounds a bit bizarre to look at in print, I assure ya, it sounds AWESOME. The melody he’s latched onto in this opening cut is killer, the mix is beyond brilliant (hello to YOU low-end, welcome home!), and when Steven transitions with such bold, jarring, and jagged chops of the guitars & uses the space & pace so insightfully well to his advantage throughout “The Man You Deserve,” you can’t help but feel the impact whenever he shifts the direction of sound & energy from one side to the other. You see what I’m saying folks? He’s trying to dash my credibility with you all again by putting one of the best songs in his entire catalog as song on his new EP…but as always, I swear I tells ya the whole truth & nothing but the truth…so take that to heart & believe me when I say that the first cut you’ll hear in ”The Man You Deserve” reveals flawless execution and BOLD ideas that stand out from start to finish.
Dude’s an insightfully gifted lyricist when he’s at his most focused – and certainly direct when he wants to be, like he’ll display throughout “False Information Perverts,” as Steven detonates into a sonic blaze of fury in support of the EP’s overall concept. Justifiably amped-up and angry for all kinds of reasons you’ll likely find you’re feeling yourself these days, Faulkner absolute EXPLODES throughout this song and ends up delivering one of his most electrifying & hardcore cuts on record to-date. The punch in the music is in all the right places, his choices as to where to place emphasis in his words & where to sing, yell, or straight up scream at ya loud enough to melt the skin right off your fucking FACE…this song is the very definition of what it sounds like to hold nothing back in pursuit of making your point & the catharsis it brings. “All I see is so much hate. There’s no accountability.” It might seem like just a simple couple lines, but if you ask me, that right there, is a genuine reflection of what we’ve been going through lately – and if we’re not really, really fucking careful…believe me, everything could still get a whole hell of a lot worse. Steven Faulkner is on FIRE here…like…for real…half the time I listened to this cut I was pretty damn convinced he was gonna implode in a supernova of rage right in front of our ears – he sounds like a one-man army of superhuman abilities & a cross between the punishing thickness of a band like Quicksand, with just a hint of the catchiness of something like Jimmy Eat World at their most savagely amped-up. I am not gonna lie to ya dear readers, dear friends…think of it this way…an artist or band might very well end up writing one, two, or more cuts based on the pandemic – and us reviewers out there in the world, are listening to them by the hundreds right now as a result. I am…much more tired of that than I thought I would get overall – but not when it comes to this stellar slice of direct to the point awesomeness Steven’s created here…I’ve got all the time for this in the world. And YES…that’s partly because the lyrics line up ENTIRELY with my own beliefs about so much of this situation we’re in and WHY we’re STILL in it – as many Covid-influenced cuts as I’ve heard, this one felt like it hit the mark on a genuinely personal level and was able to somehow represent exactly how I feel in its furious combination of scathing sound & harsh words. Someone out there had to say all this stuff as clearly and as venomously as Steven has on “False Information Perverts” – and I’m fucking THANKFUL that he has. Taking on the opinion era of facts-vs-fiction and screaming into the never-ending void of humanity only to hear a hollow echo in return can be severely frustrating when searching for signs of intelligence here on Earth lately…Steven’s working out some real anger issues of his own here, as well as on our behalf. Honestly he wouldn’t have to shout so damn loud if people just listened…and I’d suspect that’s the point fueling the fierce energy threatening to tear you a new one just for being brave enough to turn this up.
I’m realistic about everything I write as a reviewer – the simple facts always are, that I may, or I may not convince you to check out a record…it’s really just one of two things, and I’m long over that. I like to think I can find plenty of reasons in most things I listen to…but for the record, it’s not always laid out as easy to love as the music I found here on Steven Faulkner’s Love. Fury. Remorse. Vengeance. EP. Part of that is the fact that the songs are fucking great, full-stop – and part of that is sincerely having been in this guy’s corner for years, knowing he was completely capable of becoming the artist he can proudly say he is today. So what I’m saying is, don’t just take it from me – take it from HIM – he’s the guy that’ll prove exactly how far he’s come in his evolution as an artist with the update he’s put in on his song called “1000 Apologies.” I do not forget an incredible song when I hear it…I am an elephant in human form when it comes to all-things-music…and from the moment this came on, I knew exactly what I was listening to – realized potential. Did I remember this original Jigsaw Man song from back in the day, whenever it was, like…what…2015 when I reviewed that EP? You bet your ass I did. It was a great song back then already to be quite honest, just like a raw, unpolished gem waiting to be shined up good’n’proper one day in the future. That time is now folks, and this new version of “1000 Apologies” came out just as sparkling & radiant as this songwriting & melody has always truly deserved. Steven should be seriously proud of what he’s accomplished here…it would have been one of my favorites to begin with just based on the strength of this song, but hearing how much he’s leveled-up in all of what he does from performance to production has never been as easily comparable than it becomes in listening to this track. I don’t often go backwards in the reviews I write in an effort to keep things fresh, but I definitely poked open the old Jigsaw Man No Home EP just to hear how far this song had come – and it’s about the equivalent difference of night versus day. There’s no doubt he’s taken what was once a really good song and made it an undeniably great one with loads of sincerity & accessible sound – even though this cut pre-dates the rest of the lineup I’m sure, Steven’s shined up “1000 Apologies” so brightly that it can’t be heard as anything less than a huge highlight even now. This will be the favorite for many and justifiably so – Steven’s rowed his boat right into the waters of Snow Patrol’s sound & sensory vibes in this new version…and as a result of tweaking this song just enough back & forth…and never giving up on a great song – I’d have to imagine he’s immensely satisfied with the glorious way this cut has now come out. You factor in one of the best guitar solos you’ll hear this year included with it, and the stellar finale he’s packed into the ending of “1000 Apologies” – I mean, c’mon now y’all…this is pure audio gold.
Faulkner wraps it up with a punishing set of grooves on the last track calle…
………wait a hot-pickin’ minute here – did he just tell us all collectively to kiss him on his…“hole?”
I feel like I know the exact “hole” he’s referring to. Though I suppose there are likely a couple options…
The vengeance element of this conceptual EP does not attempt to hide itself, though its target certainly does. Taking on the keyboard warriors far & wide across the land, “Trollonymous” is an immensely satisfying ending that provides a wild new dimension of sound that gives this record a killer conclusion. There’s no doubt that he’s working with a much more fringe and defined style of song here – which by nature is going to generate a more polarizing result with listeners in tandem with its heaviness; but for those out there looking for a track that tends to lean towards the wilder side of sound, this Bud’s for you. Another really insightful cut on this record in terms of its lyricism – but let’s face facts, Steven’s been on-point throughout the full scope of these four tracks and the overall concepts driving this EP. “Trollonymous” once again manages to put words to what so many of us feel, only this time he directs his angst towards those fuckers on the other side of the screen that couldn’t muster a tenth of what they can type into words spoken to another human face in front of them – and rightly so. If you’ve been on the internet and you still have a pulse, chances are you have run into the twentieth-century novelty that has become the human computer troll…no matter how much time I ever end up wasting on any given day, I can still thank the Lord or Buddha or whomeverthefuck that I am not living one of their sad, sad lives. Imagine…waiting by the keyboard, just looking for the opportunity to offend…not because it MEANS something to you, but because it gives you something to be MEAN – these people are a heinous lot, easily detected and obviously revealed, and generally represent the worst of our humanity online. So ask yourself – am I onboard with Steven’s perspective here? Or am I offended? And if you find yourself a part of the latter scenario…it might just be time to take a good hard look in the mirror to see if you even recognize your own face anymore, or if you’ve become all trolled-up on the outside as much as you are on the inside. Because the rest of us listen to “Trollonymous” and don’t feel anything but empathy for the guy that wrote the song – that’s the perspective I can get behind, and I felt like I once more agreed with every single word that Faulkner let loose on this tune. It’s untamed, unfiltered, unapologetic…and there’s that whole thing about kissing his hole we still gotta reconcile with while we listen…but as far as I’m concerned, if you KNOW you’re a troll and this song is about YOU – then pucker the fuck up and start smoochin.’ There’s an excellent chance this last track will appeal to a more narrow audience in terms of its aggressive & odd style & sound…but make no mistake, it’ll reach open minds. The real bottom line is, over the course of four cuts, Faulkner hasn’t let up for a solitary second and he’s clearly put more detail into every aspect of the songwriting, ideas, and sound of this EP than he ever has before. It’s another remarkable step forward for himself as an artist, his music for us to listen to, and his overall career as he continues to surge with momentum & head into the best years ahead to follow – he’s dialing right into what makes music memorable and executing his art at an undeniably all-star level.
Find about more about Steven Faulkner from his official website at: http://stevenfaulknermusic.co.uk
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