FACS - Lifelike - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

FACS - Lifelike

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2019-03-29
FACS - Lifelike
FACS - Lifelike

Disappears was one of those revival bands that came about from the movement started in the early 2002s by bands like Interpol and The Strokes to revive post-punk. It had Sonic Youth’s iconic drummer Steve Shelley as a member until 2012, but in 2016 went on hiatus, and from that, we get FACS – a Chicago based post-punk band in the same vein as Disappears. Their 2018 debut album Negative Houses was well-received, and they’ve returned with its proper follow-up Lifelike almost exactly a year later.  

Like other post-punk bands of the 2010s, FACS employ a lot of the same methods and technologies to craft that signature sound that started back in the 70s with Joy Division, Bauhaus, and Public Image Ltd (Second Edition only). Futuristic sounds piped through plastic hallways, it’s a staple for this side of the genre. Post-punk has developed so much since the early days, that it can now envelop other more daring acts like Nick Cave, King Krule, or Ariel Pink, but the heart and center of post-punk is the sound that FACS are attempting to perfect and it borrows a lot of what the band was doing in Disappears but pushing for a sound similar to A Place to Bury Strangers.

Despite the influences, they aren’t as derivative like Preoccupations, a good band for sure, but one that continuously struggles with the direction they want to go. FACS lean more experimental, there are so little pop attributes on Lifelike, and songs like “In Time” are a bit of a stretch for a casual listener with its minimalist approach. In fact, most of FACS music feels incomplete to the average listener because of how bare it is. This isn’t field recording minimalism, it’s just that FACS don’t over saturate their sound with synths, instead opting to utilize them as instruments and not garnish.

Patience is required for a band like FACS though. At first glance, the Preoccupations similarities seem evident, especially when a song like “Loom State” begins almost exactly like several Preoccupations songs like “Espionage.” But whereas Preoccupations will drift towards the acceptable, FACS tread into a murkier territory and therefore share more in common with Joy Division than most other bands who attempt to emulate the sound. It makes for a challenging listen, not an overly inviting one, but fascinating nonetheless. I get a sense of dread and dismay from FACS that I don’t get from Preoccupations or Joy Division, but it’s prevalent in so much of Lifelike.

“Total History” is the most emblematic of their sound and aesthetic. It’s the over 8-minute closer to Lifelike, and possibly the best song I’ve heard from FACS across both releases. It’s droning and minimal, putting a heavy emphasis on the sound collage they are pushing in your face, but it’s not incessant jamming, it’s a hard-hitting epic. If there’s a complaint to be had about Lifelike, or FACS in general, it’s that post-punk of this strain is getting a bit tiresome. Lifelike displays lots of promise, but ultimately plays up to the sounds we’ve been hearing repeatedly since Viet Cong in 2015. It’ll be interesting to see where FACS go next, as Lifelike will ultimately be consumed properly by so few. The next steps are crucial.

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