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Beautiful Friction

The Fixx

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Album Review

From the return of Dan K. Brown — the bassist on all their classic efforts from Reach the Beach (1983) to Ink (1991) — to its George Underwood cover art (the painter whose work adorned Reach the Beach and Phantoms), Beautiful Friction is a return to form for the Fixx, the synth-pop-but-almost-prog-rock group who made socially aware angst fly up the charts in the '80s with "Red Skies," "One Thing Leads to Another," and "Saved by Zero." This reunion effort is without a surefire hit like those, and at first listen, it is a bit light on hooks, but lead single "Anyone Else" is strong enough to beckon any longtime fan's return, and the skeletal, funky workout called "Girl with No Ceiling" brings to mind the Phantoms era — kinetic in an "Are We Ourselves" style. While that’s all good news, the real surprise here is how Beautiful Friction builds, from the first half's set of politically minded, Occupy Movement-admiring prog for the people, to the second half's blast of the Fixx as quirky new wave attack unit, featuring a whip-smart guitarist (Jamie West-Oram), a keyboard whiz (Rupert Greenall), a propelling drummer (Adam Woods), and a reliable, Bill Wyman-esque bassist (Brown). From the whirlwind "Follow That Cab" to the slow-rolling, life-affirming closer "Small Thoughts," vocalist Cy Curnin leads the band on something akin to a mini-Fixx concert that's alive and familiar in feel, even when the material is new. Repeat listens make that initial uphill climb a richer, more purposeful experience, and with everything feeling vital past the halfway point, Beautiful Friction is a win-WIN for fans.

Customer Reviews

They never went away...

Although folks are calling this terrific set of tunes a comeback or reunion, The Fixx never went away. Except for a brief inactive period in the early 90s, the band has been touring, recording and releasing new music, joined first by bassist Chris Tate and then by Gary Tibbs (bassist for Roxy Music, Adam & The Ants.) New music and a revisualization of some of their 80s tunes (the astounding "1011 Woodland") appeared from the mid-90s to early 2000s as The Fixx toured the US fairly consistently.

In the last decade, the band continued to tour and create new music, taking a few new songs on the road now and again - but none of those songs are on this disc. (Some of them - "Remember Me When I'm Gone," "Falling Apart Together," and "The Other Side of the Story" appeared on Cy Curnin's solo discs. The mesmerizing "Everyone Believes" lives on in my head.)

In 2007, something magical happened: Dan K. Brown, that nearly-motionless, hat-wearing bass wizard you all remember from MTV, rejoined The Fixx after resolving some health issues. The creativity grew and touring continued - the band sometimes shared working song titles via social media and worked together as often as they could to finish recording. (They are family men and live in two different countries, so this took some time.) I don't think all those songs made this disc, either. They just kept finding new ideas to explore.

I'm still absorbing this new disc, enjoying the signature "Fixx" sound while marveling at new and different textures added in. Not a rehash of the past, this is an older, wiser, yet still energized Fixx. The themes are familiar - social/political consciousness, personal responsibility, spiritual evolution, etc. - but the point of view is enriched by experience. The result is a good dash of hope mixed into the observation that things aren't going well and we may have really wrecked it for future generations. There's beauty, edginess, a bit of anger, some whimsy and lots of passion in these songs. I'd say this album was well worth the wait.

The Fixx is Back

Takes me straight back to the 80s

WOW!

I've been listening to them since Shuttered Room, I've watched them evolve, experiment grow and dug everything along the way... there's a wonderful blend here, new edgy modern approaches- but there's a harkening back to the old Reach the Beach, Phantoms style of writing... it so refreshing to hear real music that isn't the cookie cutter formula.... love these guys even more for sticking to the core of what they are. If you're a fan, this is a wonderful addition to the collection.

Biography

Formed: 1980

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A London-based new wave group that managed to sustain a successful career in America for several years in the mid-'80s, the Fixx always flirted with the mainstream with their catchy, keyboard-driven pop. Formed by college friends vocalist/keyboardist Cy Curnin and drummer Adam Woods in the early '80s, the pair advertised in the music press for additional members; the remaining members of the group — guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, and bassist Charlie Barret — all...
Full Bio
Beautiful Friction, The Fixx
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