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Achieving Vagueness

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Album Review

The Flaws hail from the Irish town of Carrickmacross and formed in 2002, but on their debut album, Achieving Vagueness, the group sounds contemporaneous with the likes of Modern English and Simple Minds, with some shades of the Smiths tossed in for good measure. The same brooding, aloof mood that marked the band's predecessors is an essential part of the Flaws' sound, and some songs, such as the amazingly catchy "1981," wouldn't sound out of place between "I Melt with You" and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" on an '80s-themed playlist. While not every tune on Achieving Vagueness has this retro quality, each ties into the throwback theme in one way or another, be it via memorable, plaintive choruses ("Out Tonight," "Sixteen," "Windmill Talent"), guitar interludes that approximate synthesizers (the opening of "Throw Away"), or detached vocals courtesy of frontman Paul Finn. There may be a formula — Finn's haunting voice, driving and disjointed guitar lines from lead singer and fellow guitarist Shane Malone, Dane MacMahon's active but understated bass, and straightforward beats from drummer Colin Berrill — but it's important to note that it isn't a lucky combination that makes the album work. From beginning to end, Achieving Vagueness is filled with canorous pop hooks, a precise delivery, and well-honed musicianship; in other words, the album is built well on a solid foundation. There are no missteps to speak of, and while each of the songs is strong enough to stand on its own, none could be immediately classified as a standout single, making for an album that is even — and high — in quality. It's a fine debut for the Flaws, whose challenge will be in maintaining this level of craftsmanship on their subsequent releases.

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ire

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Like American contemporaries the Killers and Interpol, and Delorentos and Director closer to home, Irish four-piece the Flaws are indebted to the British post-punk scene of the early '80s, crafting ultra melodic indie pop music with little pretension to originality but plenty of spirit and strong songwriting. There's more than a hint of Brandon Flowers' nasally faux-English tone in the vocals of frontman Paul Finn, while the clean, delay-soaked guitar melodies which intersect...
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Achieving Vagueness, The Flaws
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