It’s not always easy to sympathise with PR departments but spare a thought for the team faced with the new B. Fleischmann album. You can imagine the conversation:
PR: “Stop Making Fans? B, what are you saying here?”
B: “It’s kind of a tribute to Talking Heads. I mention them in one of the songs on there too. It also represents my approach – I’m not worried about playing by the rules on this one. Come on, people won’t assume just by the title that I want to make my fanbase more selective… Will they?”
PR: “Well, let’s hope not. But look, I know it’s normally just yourself but this time we’re getting photographs done of the quartet who played on the album. The Name Of This Band Is B. Fleischmann is still an option…”
If you’ve followed B. Fleischmann in the past you will probably be aware that album titles are maybe not his strongest suit. Bright and bubbling melodic electronica – yes; album titles – well, we’re on less solid ground here (Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung!, anyone?). Although he did get it right on his first attempt with Pop Loops for Breakfast which remains the high watermark both as an album and an album title. However all this chatter about album titles does rather distract from the matter in question: following a break since I’m Not Ready For The Grave Yet, what does Stop Making Fans offer?
After nearly twenty years of making albums – and most of that time on, or associated with the Morr label – it’s fair to say that Fleischmann continues to make records that are very Morr-ish, in that the music is made with a delicate touch and a passing familiarity with pop – not the formulaic sound of the charts now but the songs written a few decades back when a few oddballs with synthesizers were getting into the hit parade. It’s possible that in some parallel universe, the bouncy swagger of “Here Comes The A Train” – the opening track and single – is still making its way onto radio stations and playlists across the continent.
After the opening sequence of tangential poppy songs, brighter and more optimistic than he’s done previously, Fleischmann settles into a more relaxed frame of mind. A couple of instrumental tracks act as a bridge to slower, less busy songs – still suitably catchy but not quite as punchy. Fleischmann is a limited singer but is certainly a master of the vocal hook, with phrases that bury themselves into your consciousness through repetition. He’s also stripped down the words to their barest ingredients; for example, on “It’s Not Enough”, the chorus and the verse are both one (different) repeated line, and that’s pretty much it, but it seems to work.
Although it is probably 2 or 3 tracks too long, Stop Making Fans doesn’t sound like an album that would potentially alienate Fleischmann’s audience – I think the title itself might be the biggest potential stumbling block – and by turning down the guitars and shoegaze influence for arrangements that feel more tropical at times, it could be an album that is dug out when the summer comes along. Then B. Fleischmann might start making fans all over again. (Jeremy Bye)