Review by: Francelino Prazeres de Azevedo Filho
Album assigned by: Franco Micale
Fad Gadget is the artistic pseudonym taken by Englishman Francis John Tovey, who Wikipedia describes as an avant-garde electronic musician. His 1984’s album, Gag, is notable for featuring industrial music’s most famous stick figure, Einstürzende Neubauten, on one track. So, it was to my surprise (a pleasant one), to find that this album is a catchy post-punk/new wave record.
It starts on the gothy side of the post-punk spectrum, with lyrics like “as I dream, I live / and as I sleep, I walk” or “they have no reflections / drink blood but pierce no veins”, that almost seem parodic, and might as well be. But as that kind of sound starts to overstay its welcome, Mr. Fad surprises me with the badfingerish “Stand Up”. The album then takes a turn towards the poppier and happier aspects of the genre, bringing acts like XTC to mind. Some tracks, like “One Man’s Meat” or “Jump” are clearly inspired by Gang of Four. Overall, the album is very diverse, even if it doesn’t depart from post-punk, because the genre has many possible paths, and Frank Tovey tries to go through all of them in a single record.
All this diversity wouldn’t be enough, if the songs weren’t good, but there isn’t a single weak track on this album. The strongest point to me is Fad’s voice. It has a remarkable range of moods and personalities, from the crooning on “The Ring”, to the more aggressive “Ad Nauseum”, and all of them are great. Instrumentally, the album is solid, with a wide variety of instruments that all contribute to the music, but in my limited listens throughout this week, nothing really jumped out as great. Even the Einstürzende Neubauten participation on “Collapsing New People” was good but not really impressive.
Overall, Gag is a pretty good album, and, I might say, one of the best I’ve listened of this era. It might even serve as an introduction to post-punk, because it travels through the many variants of the genre, always making sure to show their strong points.